Date and Time: March 20th, 9:00 PM CET
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu
Competition: La Liga
Referee: Juan Martinez Munuera
For decades, El Clasico was considered one of the most evenly matched contests in Europe. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have had their fluctuations in form and strength, but the spoils have largely been shared by the two Spanish giants.
However, the equilibrium was disturbed in the past two years.
Of the last five Clasico’s Barcelona have won none. Los Blancos have proven to be too hot to handle for the Catalans, as seen in the first meeting between the sides this season. Despite the game taking place at Camp Nou, Real Madrid came, saw, and conquered.
After five painful defeats to their arch-rivals, Barcelona finally seem to have a rhythm going for them. The team has found a direction under Xavi and the setup is coming together beautifully.
With eight wins in their last eleven games, they head into the Clasico in supreme form. Despite there not being much importance to the game from the standings standpoint, a win on Sunday will be a big boost to the team.
What to expect from Real Madrid?
Carlo Ancelotti’s men are firmly in the driver’s seat in La Liga. No one, it seems, can stop them from winning the domestic silverware. The focus is now primarily on the Champions League, but the Clasico is a game they will not want to take lightly.
Carlo Ancelotti confirmed the absence of Karim Benzema and Ferland Mendy in the pre-match press conference. With two vital players out, the manager has big decisions to take on Sunday.
Thibaut Courtois will start in goal at the Bernabeu as he looks to take his league clean sheet tally to 13. The Belgian averages 2.6 saves per game and will be key in neutralising the Blaugrana attack.
David Alaba was amongst the goalscorers when Real Madrid met Barcelona earlier this season and will be determined to pull off an equally prominent performance tomorrow. He will likely start at centre-back alongside Eder Militao who had a phenomenal game against PSG.
Daniel Carvajal is expected to start at right-back and will hope to end his poor run of form. In Mendy’s absence, Nacho may get the nod at left-back.
In midfield, Ancelotti will opt for the three musketeers. The combination of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro never gets old and continues to defy all concepts of natural ageing. As they go up against Barcelona’s young midfield, they will look to dominate proceedings.
Karim Benzema’s absence is a huge blow for the men in white ahead of the Clasico. Ancelotti will likely be forced to use Gareth Bale in the Frenchman’s place on the night. Vinicius Jr and Marco Asensio complete the lineup at left and right-wing respectively.
Probable Real Madrid lineup: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Nacho; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Asensio, Bale, Vinicius
What to expect from Barcelona?
Xavi does not have many notable exclusions through injury except Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto who are injured long term. The one new for the Blaugranes is Sergino Dest, who sustained an injury in the game against Galatasaray.
On the night, Xavi will give Marc-Andre ter Stegen the start in goal. The German has been far from his best in recent Clasicos and must turn it around.
Gerard Pique picked up a knock during the game midweek but is expected to return to fitness for the Clasico. Though Eric Garcia was preferred for the last game, Ronald Araujo has good chances to start against Real Madrid given his pace and defensive solidity.
Jordi Alba will man the left-back position and will hope to exploit Carvajal’s poor run of form. Meanwhile, Dani Alves will face the ultimate test on the right side. Up against Vinicius Jr, the Brazilian will need to be at the top of his defensive game at the Bernabeu.
In midfield, Xavi will start Sergio Busquets as the pivot. Pedri and Frenkie de Jong are expected to complete the setup in the middle of the park.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang warrants a starting position after his unreal run of form since joining. The Gabonese striker will, in all probability, be joined by Ferran Torres and Ousmane Dembele on the left and right-flank respectively.
Probable Barcelona lineup: Ter Stegen; Alves, Araujo, Pique, Alba; de Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Dembele, Aubameyang, Torres
Vinicius Jr’s incredible rise to supremacy has been incredible to follow. The last two times Barcelona met Los Blancos, the Brazilian proved to be a handful for the defence.
In Karim Benzema’s absence, there will be further pressure on the youngster’s shoulders to produce an impact. Vinicius already has 14 goals and six assists in La Liga this season, and Dani Alves will have his work cut out for him.
RCD Mallorca 0-3 Real Madrid | La Liga
Real Madrid 3-1 PSG | UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid 4-1 Real Sociedad | La Liga
Rayo Vallecano 0-1 Real Madrid | La Liga
Real Madrid 3-0 Deportivo Alaves | La Liga
Barcelona’s previous games: WWDWW
Galatasaray 1-2 Barcelona | UEFA Europa League
Barcelona 4-0 Osasuna | La Liga
Barcelona 0-0 Galatasaray | UEFA Europa League
Elche 1-2 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 4-0 Athletic Club | La Liga
Barcelona 2-3 Real Madrid | Spanish Supercup 2021-22
Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid | La Liga 2021-22
Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona | La Liga 2020-21
Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid | La Liga 2020-21
Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona | La Liga 2019-20
- Barcelona have lost their last five Clasicos.
- There has been one clean sheet in the last five games between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
- The Catalans are on an eleven game unbeaten streak.
- Barcelona and Real Madrid have won eight Clasicos each of the last 20.
- Since Benzema is injured, Jordi Alba has the best record in today’s Clasico with 2 goals and six assists.
One of the most fiercely fought Clasico’s is expected to take place at the Santiago Bernabeu. Barcelona’s confidence will face off against Real Madrid’s never say die attitude. The Blaugranas will have to play out of their skin to win, but their opposition’s habit of pulling things back even in the worst of situations will be the obstacle. One could expect a stalemate on the night.
Barca Universal prediction: Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona