Let's hear it for the unheralded heroes
To listen to the debate and comment over the last week, both here in Spain and elsewhere around the world, you might think that only two players will be on the pitch at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Saturday for the latest edition of El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The headlines have been dominated by Barca's amazing Argentine and his Portuguese predecessor as the World Player of the Year, who pulls on the predominantly white apparel of arch rivals Real.
You don't need their names, you know who they are. If you don't, then you've obviously arrived at this blog by mistake.
There have been passing mentions of Kaka and Xabi Alonso, as well as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Xavi Hernandez, but aliens from outer space unfamiliar with football could easily be fooled into thinking that certain Spanish matches, on the evidence gathered from the media coverage of the last few days, are one-on-one games like those that were played out in the park or playground when we were young.
However, as people who have their feet on this planet will know, it will be an 11-a-side affair, so let's hear it for two unheralded players who could play a crucial role this weekend.
They are both European and should be on display for their respective countries at the World Cup in South Africa, where they might just step out of the long shadows cast by their apparently more illustrious club colleagues.
First, there's Barcelona's Gerard Pique.
Pique is a product of Barcelona's cantera but spent four years at Old Trafford
He probably thought this would be a good week to launch his autobiography, presumably the first of several as he's only 23. Only he was asked hardly any questions about the book and was instead pestered for his thoughts about his team-mate, the one who wears the number 10 shirt.
It was one of Pique's very few bits of bad timing all season.
The defender has fulfilled all the promise that Sir Alex Ferguson saw in him as a teenager, when he took him to Old Trafford in 2004. Like Atletico Madrid's Diego Forlan, his time at Manchester United may have had its frustrations, but the pair certainly do not regard their time there as being wasted.
Pique has firmly established himself alongside club captain Carles Puyol in the centre of the Barca defence this season, relegating Rafa Marquez to the bench.
He has also become a mainstay of the Spanish national side, doing to Valencia's Carlos Marchena at international level what he has done to his Mexican club-mate.
One statistic in particular makes a telling case for Pique's reliability and importance. He has only been responsible for 4.2% of the occasions when Barcelona have lost possession this season.
For Real, the man who all too often gets ignored but has played a crucial role this season is Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart.
Van der Vaart came through the ranks at the Ajax academy and moved to Hamburg before Madrid
At the end of last season, it seemed almost certain that Van der Vaart was going to join the Dutch exodus that has seen Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and more recently Ruud van Nistelrooy leave Real for pastures new.
However, Van der Vaart has turned into Real's super-sub, becoming the man who Manuel Pellegrini turns to when there is a problem up front.
He has covered for Kaka during his time out injured or come on for him when he is clearly having a bad day. And with the Brazilian still unfit, Van der Vaart is likely to start behind Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday.
His speed and ability down both wings also mean he has stood in for Ronaldo. He's likeable and has also accepted his place in the occasionally chaotic scheme of things at Real.
The virtues of both Pique and van der Vaart, as both Pep Guardiola and Pellegrini have openly said, is that they are reliable, a word that doesn't always get used in connection with some of their more mercurial colleagues. Think of Real's Marcelo or Barca's Seydou Keita.
As Pellegrini is reputed to have said about Van der Vaart earlier this season: "He may not win you a game but he certainly won't lose you a game either."
Barca may be in second place, with the same number of points as their eternal rivals, but, with La Liga decided by head-to-head results, a draw will be enough for them to swap places thanks to November's 1-0 win over Real in the Camp Nou.
With just seven more games remaining after Saturday, that potentially may just be enough to clinch this year's title.
One suspects that most of Barca's supporters, used to beautiful football under Guardiola, will not be too unhappy if the game confounds the staggeringly high expectations and ends up a dour stalemate.
I'm sure you'll have also noticed that I've also assiduously avoided mentioning Lionel Messi by name so far. After all, what more can be said about him that hasn't already been written?
As the Spanish sports newspaper Marca wrote on its front page after his four goals against Arsenal on Tuesday: "How are we going to stop this guy?"
Comments on the blog in the space provided below. Other questions on European football to firstname.lastname@example.org. I don't need your full address but please put the town/city and country where you come from.
After a blog about the big game in Spain this weekend, here are two Serie A-related questions.
Q) I want to know your views on Dejan Stankovic of Inter Milan.
Subodh Kannan, Mumbai
A) Since I was talking about unsung heroes above, this seems like a good question to answer as I don't think Stankovic gets the public recognition he deserves. He might be one of the best midfielders in Europe at the moment but he is inevitably getting overshadowed by the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Milito. At least Jose Mourinho and Raddy Antic recognise his talents and his hard work, although he plays more defensively for his country than his club, and was crucial in Serbia getting to the World Cup finals.
Q) What are your thoughts regarding Roma´s Francesco Totti making himself available for selection for the World Cup?
Grant Cunningham, Ayr, Scotland
A) For people who don't know the background, Totti has not played for the Azzurri since the 2006 World Cup final, at first taking a sabbatical from the national team because of injury problems and then announcing his international retirement. He decided to make himself available for selection again in January, but, with such a wealth of options, some of which were discussed in my recent blog on Antonio Di Natale, I don't think Marcello Lippi will be calling on him, despite his good club form this season.