There aren't many soccer squads in history-let alone right now, this season-that can stand shoulder to shoulder with FC Barcelona's unbreakable front three. The football club struck gold last season when Luis Enrique put Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez on the field together. Despite early reports that Enrique and Messi were having spats in practice, Enrique managed to teach his three stars how to play off one another to be better together than they could ever be separately. And considering just how good Messi, Neymar, and Suarez are separately, that statement is quite a feat.

Remarkably, if there is one offensive lineup in the world that can challenge Barca's Messi-Suarez-Neymar triage, that trio is also playing in the Spanish La Liga right now. Real Madrid have a dynamic trio of their own: Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, and Cristiano Ronaldo, all as capable of orchestrating incredible football feats as their Barcelona counterparts. The question is this: can Real's "BBC" (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) really compare to Barca's MSN (Messi, Suarez, Neymar)? Or is one of these trios clearly better than the other?

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A Brief History of Origins

On paper, in terms of transfer fees alone, Real Madrid should have the edge here. Real's BBC frontline includes the two most expensive players of all time. Gareth Bale came to Madrid for £93.1 million in 2013, while Cristiano Ronaldo arrived four years earlier to the tune of £83.7 million. Benzema was cheaper, coming to Real Madrid in 2009 (alongside Ronaldo) for a fee of £35.2 million. The Vikings spent a combined grand total of £212 million to bring these three great football players to Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Comparatively, at least, FC Barcelona got a bargain. Neymar and Luis Suarez fill the third and fourth slots on the "most expensive players of all time" list, costing £83 million and £78.8 million, respectively. Neymar arrived in 2013, while Suarez joined up in the fall of 2014, once his ban from that year's World Cup had elapsed. Messi, meanwhile, has been with Barca since 2001, rising up the ranks from the club's youth program to their C and B squads. He finally played his first senior match in 2004.

For those keeping track, since Barcelona never had to pay a transfer fee for Messi, the soccer club only spent £161.8 million to unite their front three at Camp Nou.

Statistics and Trophies

Messi has been with Barcelona for more than a decade, and Cristiano is currently playing his seventh season as part of the Real Madrid squad. Despite these lengthy tenures, though, we only have a season and a half of direct evidence that we can use to compare how MSN and BBC have stacked up against one another so far. BBC has been together since the start of the 2013/14 season while MSN came together at the start of the 2014/15 season. As such, the 2014/15 campaign is where our comparison of these two legendary vanguards will start.

If you are looking at the 2014/15 campaigns alone, there is really no way that Barcelona and MSN don't come out on the better end of this comparison. Take trophies: 2015 saw Barca win the La Liga, the Copa Del Rey, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup. The only trophy they missed, the Supercopa de Espana, went to Athletic Club Bilbao, not Real Madrid. In fact, the Vikings won no silverware at all during the 2014/15 season, despite their world-class front trio.

There can be no doubt that Messi, Suarez, and Neymar were the driving force behind their team's five-trophy run in 2015. In the 2014/15 La Liga, Real Madrid actually outscored Barcelona 118 goals to 110. But in terms of MSN versus BBC, MSN came out on top. Between them, Messi, Suarez, and Neymar scored 89 goals and racked up 39 assists in last season's domestic league. BBC's combined figures were 76 goals and 35 assists.

The Skills of MSN

The assists figures here are key for two reasons. First, they posit Barcelona as the slightly more collaborative team. Messi, Suarez, and Neymar were able to develop an undeniable chemistry in their first year playing together, while Bale, Benzema, and Ronaldo have either never found that team ethic or have only found it recently, under the leadership of new manager Zinedine Zidane.

Second, the assist number (as well as the goal count, for that matter) show that MSN are more self-sufficient as an offensive line than BBC. Not only did MSN provide each other (and other Barca players) with more assists than BBC did, they also scored a larger percentage of their team's overall goals. Indeed, during the 2014/15 campaign, Messi, Suarez, and Neymar accounted for an astonishing 80.9 percent of their team's goals in the La Liga. Bale, Benzema, and Ronaldo only notched 64.4 percent of Real's goals.

On one hand, you could view these statistics as a sign that Real Madrid has a deeper and more well-rounded soccer squad than Barcelona does. On the other hand, it highlights the fact that BBC have to rely more on midfielders and other team members than MSN do. Messi, Suarez, and Neymar create, set up, and execute the vast majority of their own scoring drives-a fact that almost inarguably makes them the better front three.

Another factor that slides in Barca's favor is that Neymar and Suarez were able to keep things going even when Messi was out with an injury in the fall. With Barcelona's best player sidelined, BBC should have been able to rise to the occasion and take an insurmountable lead in the 2015/16 La Liga. Instead, it's March, and Real Madrid are trailing Barca by a significant margin. With one league title in MSN's favor and another likely on the way, could there even be an argument that BBC are the better frontline?

Player-by-Player Comparisons

If there is an argument to be made in favor of BBC, it's likely in terms of pure player accomplishments. After all, the Cristiano Ronaldo/Lionel Messi rivalry has been waged for years, both by the players themselves and their fans, and it continues to be a popular topic of football conversation to this day.

There is a very valid argument to be made that Ronaldo is the best of either frontline. He scored more goals last season (48, to Messi's 43) and will likely outscore Leo once again this season. He's also the all-time leading scorer in the UEFA Champions League (though Messi is less than 10 goals behind) and is La Liga's all-time record holder for hat tricks, with 29 (Messi has 25). Sure, Leo has Cristiano beat in terms of all-time La Liga goals, but only by about 50 goals despite having been around the league for four more seasons.

Particularly since the MSN trio came together, Messi has been less of a focal point at Barcelona and more of a strong contributor. Still, that fact didn't stop the Argentine star from beating Ronaldo to win the 2015 Ballon d'Or. Ronaldo finished second, but the Barcelona trio did better down the line in the voting, with Neymar rounding out the top three and Luis Suarez sliding into fifth, behind Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski. On the original 23-man shortlist, Bale finished 16th, while Karim Benzema ended up at 20th.

The Verdict 

Bottom line, the Ronaldo, Bale, and Benzema make for a great frontline, but they simply can't match Messi, Suarez, and Neymar in terms of skill, consistency, chemistry, or versatility. That much was obvious when the two teams met in November. Messi wasn't even back to full health yet, and Real Madrid had the home field advantage, but Barca still pounded out a 4-0 victory, with two goals from Suarez and one from Neymar. (The fourth came from Andres Iniesta.) The two football clubs had about even possession and the Vikings had plenty of shots on goal, but Barcelona won the game decisively. It was a reminder that, right now, there is no vanguard in soccer that can match Barca's MSN.

Which club do you think has the better frontline? Would you rather sport a Barcelona home jersey in support of MSN or don a Real Madrid away shirt 2015/16 to show solidarity with BBC? Stop by Soccer Box today to choose your jersey and your team!