The footballing world will come to a standstill once again when arguably two of the biggest teams in world football collide in the biggest rivalry known to the beautiful game – it’s the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Some would argue that this fixture has lost some of its shine, especially since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus – still, this is a game like no other. Barcelona seem to be runaway leaders for the moment, with Los Blancos down in third place – nine points adrift of their arch-rivals.
Real Madrid 31/20
It’s been a disappointing season thus far for the European champions, with Real Madrid some way off the pace, being nine points adrift of their Clasico rivals. The league title seems unattainable at the moment, but a victory for Los Blancos would see them blow the title race wide open.
A win for the hosts here would also see Madrid end their league hoodoo over Barcelona, failing to win an El Clasico since April 2016 – a run dating back to five matches.
Madrid are a new-look team this season without Cristiano Ronaldo, with Santiago Solari opting to breed new life into the Madrid camp, giving more youngsters a chance to make their names for one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
To date, no youngster has stepped up like Brazilian wonderkid, Vinicius Junior, who seems destined to challenge for the Ballon d’Or award later in his career. The 18-year-old may lack the experience in a fixture like this, but he certainly has no fear going into what will be a tough week for Real Madrid.
“We’re ready for El Clasico,” Vinicius told reporters.
“There’s two in one week and we know all football fans look forward to them.
“I can’t wait to play in it, it’s a very important match. Every player would love to be involved in a Clasico!”
Speaking on the threat that Lionel Messi poses, the Brazilian youngster also added: “Messi is always there. He’s an incredible player but we aren’t scared of anybody.
“We’re ready and have the best players in the world.”
As mentioned, Madrid haven’t won this fixture in the league since 2016, but their last victory on home soil against Barcelona came way back in 2014 – a run which the likes of Vinicius and co will be looking to end this Saturday.
It’s all looking good for Barcelona at the moment with the Spanish champions enduring a seven-point lead over Atletico Madrid in second, while their opponents for this match sit in third spot, nine points behind.
Barca have been in decent form of late with their most recent fixture at the time of writing being their emphatic come-from-behind win over Sevilla, a game in which Leo Messi netted yet another hat-trick for the club.
That also took the Argentine magician’s goal tally to 25 in La Liga, with the European Golden Shoe in reach for the second time in a row after netting 34 goals last season.
Barca’s number 10 will also be looking to add to his record of 15 goals in 19 visits to the Bernabeu, but he isn’t the only threat that the Catalan giants possess, with the league’s second top scorer, Luis Suarez, also raring to have a go and silence some of his doubters, who have pounced at the opportunity to criticize the Uruguayan international.
Deeper in the pitch, though, Barca have somewhat struggled this season. Ivan Rakititc, Philippe Coutinho and Arturo Vidal have failed to live up to being some of the best midfielders in the world, with Sergio Busquets and Carles Alena being the only bright sparks in the Barca midfield.
There have also been signs of shakiness from their backline, with Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique struggling to form a formidable partnership. To no surprise, their backline has had to call upon Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who has impressed in recent weeks, and will certainly be tested once again – this time in a more hostile fixture at the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid: 4-3-3
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Bale, Benzema, Vinicius.
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Suarez, Dembele.
Prediction: Real Madrid (31/20)
Despite Barcelona leading the way by some distance at the top of the table, I cannot see them opening up more of a gap over their rivals. Even in their wins, the Catalans have been far from convincing. This will also be the perfect time for Vinicius to see his name in bright lights – and there’s no bigger stage than an El Clasico. My money is on Real Madrid here!
You might like to check out our Soccer / Football App