Barcelona vs Real Madrid: El Clasico: Match Preview & Prediction
The biggest and the most exhilarating football game on the planet looms as Barcelona welcomes Real Madrid to the Camp Nou for the first El Clasico of the season.
Lionel Messi led Barca have been far off from being the best club in the world for some years now. The disappointing results also made Messi look for greener pastures elsewhere and this could be his last year battling it out in the famed Clasico.
Real have procured well in the transfer market getting away from their galactico philosophy. The young guns have really come into their own and things are starting to fall into place for Zinedine Zidane.
The Los Blancos pipped Barcelona to the La Liga title in spectacular fashion last year. Now it’s time for Barcelona to bring out the battle-wagons and take sweet revenge against their bitter rivals.
Last time out
Vinicius Jr. and Mariano scored two second-half goals as Real Madrid cruised to a 2-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu. This crucial win took Zinedine Zidane's side to the top of the table, which they held to the end of the season on their way to clinch the La Liga trophy.
For Ronald Koeman’s side, left-back Jordi Alba is a doubt given his hamstring issue. Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho should be back into the eleven. Samuel Umtiti and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are long term absentees.
The Los Blancos have a couple of injury setbacks of their own. Right-back Dani Carvajal will miss the esteemed battle. Nacho will most likely replace him. Karim Benzema will come back into the eleven but Eden Hazard is nowhere close to being fit.
Lionel Messi vs Sergio Ramos
Madrid rested Ramos in their opening Champions League game to get him fully fit for the Clasico, a decision which came back to bite them as they were subjected to a 2-3 loss against a second-string Shakhtar Donetsk side. This gave away the dependency of Madrid on their maverick leader and captain to grind out victories.
The 33-year old is a fierce competitor and is vastly experienced in handling world-class attackers such as Lionel Messi. He would bring all his experience into play to restrict Messi from finding an opening.
Messi could be in his last season with his beloved Barcelona and this could be his last Clasico at home. La Pulga has a tremendous record against Real and he would want to further cement his legacy by getting his team home.
Gerard Pique vs Karim Benzema
The two outstanding competitors would come face to face once again in the brand new season. This long-standing rivalry has been a treat to the eyes and they would want to give another reminder of their class.
Pique’s calm and composed presence as the leader of the defense and his immaculate ball-playing ability would come in handy to build attacks from the back.
Benzema has not been in the best of form but he comes into his own in these blockbuster fixtures. His towering presence in the box and his ability to bring others into play by his link-up play would be the key to unlock Pique led Barca defense.
Barcelona have been phenomenal at home as they are undefeated in 32 out of 33 matches in the La Liga. Real Madrid is equally great playing away from home as they are undefeated in their last eight away matches in the league.
Both the teams are coming off of two disappointing results but the Blaugrana looks the better of the two by virtue of being in free-scoring form at home. They may trump Real to take the all-important three points and the bragging rights in the first El Clasico of the season.