Xavi’s Barcelona travel to the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday to face off against Carlo Ancelotti’s reigning Spanish champions, Real Madrid, for the biggest clash in world football, ‘El Clasico’. The two teams are both currently on an 8-game unbeaten streak in the league this season, and it might be that whoever yields to a defeat in this game might forfeit their title aspirations to the other team, but this is football where any and everything can happen.
Real Madrid are the defending champions after a dominant display in the league last season spearheaded by Balon d’Or favourite Karim Benzema, with the help of Brazilian winger Vinicius Jr., the midfield trio of Kroos-Casemiro-Modric and Belgian stopper Thibaut Courtois. Real Madrid won the first fixture of the La Liga Clasico last season when they beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Camp Nou, and they have a superior head-to-head record against Barca in the Clasico with 76 wins in the league compared to the Catalan club’s 73.
The two Spanish sides have been dominating the statistics of the La Liga Santander this season, but Barcelona more than Real Madrid, having scored more goals (20) and conceded less goals (1), their player the league’s top scorer (Robert Lewandowski, 9). Barcelona have the bragging rights going into this clash as their fans can boast and reflect again on their 4-0 win against Los Blancos in their most recent league fixture.
Barcelona’s forms in the La Liga and the Champions League have been in stark contrast, and they are on the verge of elimination from this season’s Champions League following a 3-3 draw against Inter. They are currently 3rd in their Group C, 3 points off of Inter Milan and what’s not comforting for them is the fact that if Inter Milan beat Plzen then Barcelona are relegated to the Europa League. Real Madrid fans have been enjoying the struggles of Barcelona and have made comments to try and destroy Barca’s confidence building up to Sunday’s game between these 2 clubs. The current European Champions will be looking to rub salt into the visitor’s wounds by snatching the 3 points from them and claiming unrivalled top spot at the end of the matchday.
Real Madrid have racked up 100 wins against Barcelona in El Clasico across all competitions in which they have faced each other, the most recent being the Spanish Super earlier this year. Many of their fans have grown increasingly confident of their chances in this tie following Barca’s frustration at Inter, while their club have been flying the Champions League this season. Winning all but one of their opening 4 games in the group stages of the competition they’re defending (3W, 1D), and even Barcelona captain Sergio Busquets has openly admitted that he doesn’t have 100% faith in Barcelona’s chances going up against Real Madrid as a result of the outcome of the game against Inter. The Spanish was quoted saying, “It is clear that this affects us for El Clasico”, indicating that the result against Inter will affect the team’s performance in Sunday’s El Clasico.
Barcelona’s depleted defence (with injuries to Araujo, Christensen and Kounde (doubt) who may be able to gain fitness in time for the game) will have to contend with the constant threat of Vinicius Jr. and the young Rodrygo in Real Madrid’s attack. The Los Blancos midfield featuring Croatian Modric will have to be up to its standards to make it difficult for Barcelona’s exciting midfield youngsters, Pedri and Gavi. While the rapid firing Robert Lewnadowski widely boosts Barcelona’s chances up front as he is the current top scorer in the competition with 9 goals, and the Madrid defence will need to be up to bar to stop the Polish forward from adding to his tally. It sure is building up to be a game of significance and one that promises firecrackers at every turn, and it is hard for anyone to call this game but I can see Barcelona coming out on top in this clash given their form in La Liga this season.