Real Madrid and Barcelona are the world’s best paid teams

We’ve made it halfway through the four unbearably tense matches in 18 days between Real Madrid and Barcelona and now we know that these games aren’t just pitting Spain’s two best football clubs against each other, but the two highest paid sports team in the world. Yes, according to SportingIntelligence.com, the two Spanish giants with their massive TV contracts and dizzying collection of international superstars have overtaken the New York Yankees as the teams that throw the most cash at their players.

From Sporting Intelligence’s report on the matter:

The average first team pay at Barcelona has been calculated at £95,081 [$152,130] per player per week, or £4,944,211 [7,910,737] per year in the period under review. Real Madrid’s players in No2 place earned £88,421 [$141,474] per week (£4.6m or $7.4m per year) while first-team stars at the Yankees, at No3, will earn an average of £81,206 [$129,929] per man per week in the 2011 season, or £4.2m [$6.8] per year.

Following the news that Real Madrid became the highest earning sports team ever, this development probably shouldn’t come as a surprise and once the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules come into effect, this could prove to be a short-lived reign at the top.

Following the Yankees on the list are the NBA pair of the L.A. Lakers and the Orlando Magic, then come double winners Chelsea and treble winners Inter Milan. Here’s the full top 12…

The number of European football clubs on the list just edge out the number of NBA franchises by a tally of five to four while the locked out NFL is nowhere to be found in the top 12. Surely the Yankees will take this as a challenge, though, and offer $4 billion for Cristiano Ronaldo.

El Clasico 2: Real Madrid triumph!

Real Madrid won their first Copa del Rey trophy since 1993 after defeating Barcelona 1-0 in extra-time on Thursday.

Jose Mourinho’s squad also won their first trophy since 2008 at Valencia’s Mestalla, thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s terrific header in the 103rd minute.

The fixture between Spain’s two biggest clubs is dubbed ‘El Clasico’, but this match was far from a classic, with Mourinho’s side stifling Barcelona with their excellent defence and a crowded midfield.

Barcelona enjoyed most of the early possession but could not break down a stubborn Real side, who had the majority of the first-half chances.

The best of those came 10 minutes before half-time, with Barcelona’s back-up goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto, who was called up to replace Victor Valdes, required to make a low save to deny Ronaldo.

 

Real nearly opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time when Mesut Oezil’s ball was nodded onto the post by the impressive Pepe, who could only watch as the ball bounced wide after hitting the woodwork.

Barcelona improved early in the second half and Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta went close to scoring the opener, while Pedro did find the back of the net but had his goal correctly disallowed for offside after Messi had set him up, but played the pass marginally late.

Angel Di Maria, who was fantastic for the victors, had a chance to win the game in normal time, but his strike was well saved by Pinto as the match went to extra-time.

The goal eventually came thanks to fine work down the left hand side from Marcelo and Di Maria, with the Argentine producing an inch-perfect cross for Ronaldo, who met the ball with a powerful header to delight the Madrid half of the crowd.

Barcelona tried in vain to equalise and although Di Maria was sent off for a second yellow card in the dying stages of the second period of extra time, they were too late to grab a winner.

The result was the first defeat in a final for Pep Guardiola since he took over as coach of the Catalan giants in 2008 and could give Real a psychological edge heading into their two-legged Champions League semi-final with Barca, beginning on April 27.