Spanish La Liga: El Clasico Preview

Week 35 Preview

The football world will come to a standstill on Sunday as the sport's greatest, most glamorous rivalry, El Clasico, will resume for the final time this season at the Camp Nou.

In Spain, it is more than just a football match; it is a clash of cultures, political differences and, of course, a showdown between the two best footballers in the world – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The pair of superstars have battled it out year in and year out since 2009 for the Ballon d'Or and after Ronaldo's most recent win, they are tied on five apiece.


Los Blancos beat Barca to the La Liga title by three points last season, but the Catalans have outshone them this season, sitting 15 points ahead of them. However, Real have surpassed them in the UEFA Champions League.

When the sides met at the Santiago Bernabeu in December, Barca ran out comfortable 3-0 winners and Zinedine Zidane’s men will surely try to earn revenge from that very disappointing loss.

*Please note that this article was written prior to Real Madrid’s second-leg Champions League semi-final match against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, 1 May 2018.

Barcelona vs Real Madrid | Sunday 6 May | Camp Nou | 20:45

To Win Match
Barcelona 7/10
Draw 33/10
Real Madrid 33/10

Barcelona
After securing their 25th Spanish league title by beating Deportivo La Coruna 4-2 last Sunday, Barcelona are aiming to go the entire La Liga campaign undefeated for the first time in the league’s history. Ernesto Valverde’s side have been superb this season with 26 wins and eight draws from 34 matches, netting 87 goals while conceding 21 times. From 16 games played at the Camp Nou, they’ve won 14 times, scoring 45 goals while shipping eight.

Valverde’s side have won their last two La Liga meetings against Real, but those victories have come at the Santiago Bernabeu. Barca have failed to beat Los Blancos in their last two home meetings in La Liga. The Catalans were denied a victory at the Camp Nou last season after Sergio Ramos scored in stoppage time to cancel out Luis Suarez's goal. And in the 2015/2016 campaign, Barca were beaten 2-1 with Ronaldo getting the winner five minutes from time. The Blaugrana’s last La Liga victory at home to Real came in the 2014/2015 season when they won 2-1.

Messi holds the record for goals in El Clasico, bagging 25 times against Barca’s biggest rivals. The Argentine international scored his first senior hat-trick against Los Blancos in 2007 and hasn’t stopped scoring since. Messi has been decisive in the last two Clasico matches in La Liga, scoring three times. The little maestro scored a last-minute winner in 2017 to secure a 3-2 win for Barcelona at the Bernabeu and he scored and assisted in the 3-0 victory in December.

Real Madrid
Zidane has made it clear that there will be no guard of honour for Barcelona from Real Madrid on Sunday. The Real coach has laid the blame for that at the door of the Blaugrana, who he accused of breaking the tradition."If a guard of honour after winning a trophy is a tradition then Barcelona broke it so we won't do it at the Camp Nou and that's my decision," he said. Zidane was referring to the Clasico of December 23, 2017 when Barca failed to perform one for Real at the Santiago Bernabeu after their victory in the Club World Cup.

What matters most to Zidane’s men is ending Barcelona’s unbeaten run and avenging their humiliating 3-0 loss to their rivals in December. Before that meeting, Real claimed a resounding 5-1 aggregate win over Barca in the Spanish Super Cup in August to secure their seventh piece of silverware of the Zidane era. Los Blancos won 3-1 at the Camp Nou and 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ronaldo is no stranger to playing the villian at the Camp Nou. In fact, the Portuguese has scored more El Clasico goals at Barca's ground than Messi, netting 11 times, one more than the Argentine. The reigning Ballon d'Or holder is a goal-scoring machine, having scored 26 goals in 18 games for Real in 2018, at the time of writing.

Real Madrid have won their last six games away from home, including victories in the Champions League over Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich, which shows they have the quality to win at the toughest grounds in football. Los Blancos believe they are the best team in the world and having won the Champions League three times in the last four seasons, they have a strong case.

Verdict: Barcelona Win/Draw + Both Teams to Score (15/20)
Barca annihilated Real in their last meeting in December which gives them the edge going into this clash. Valverde will be desperate for his side to keep their unbeaten run intact as he looks to make history with the club in his debut season. I’m going for Barcelona on the Win/Draw Double Chance & Both Teams to Score at 15/20.



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