El Clasico: Barcelona vs Real Madrid Preview

Soccer players playing on a field

The first El Clasico of the season will take place at the Camp Nou on Sunday and it will be the first time in 11 years that the derby will be played without Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo is now at Juventus, while Messi has been ruled out for three weeks after he fractured his right arm during last Saturday’s 4-2 win over Sevilla.

Barca will be looking to make it back-to-back victories against Los Blancos, who are in a mega-crisis and in desperate need of a win with coach Julen Lopetegui on the brink of being sacked.

Please note that this article was written prior to these sides’ UEFA Champions League matches in midweek.

Spanish La Liga
Barcelona vs Real Madrid   
Sunday 28 October  
Camp Nou 
17:15

To Win 
Barcelona 21/20
Draw 28/10
Real Madrid 9/4

Barcelona
Barcelona find themselves top of the Spanish La Liga after nine matches played, although Ernesto Valverde’s side haven’t been convincing. The Catalans have won just five games this season, drawing three times and losing once.

After a strong start to the campaign which saw the reigning champions win their opening four matches against Alaves (3-0), Real Valladolid (0-1), Huesca (8-2) and Real Sociedad (1-2), scoring 14 goals while conceding just once, Barca went four games without a win.

They recorded back-to-back draws at the Camp Nou against Girona (2-2) and Athletic Bilbao (1-1) in between a 2-1 defeat at 18th-placed Leganes and were then held to a 1-1 draw away to strugglers Valencia. But Valverde’s side finally returned to winning ways with a 4-2 victory at home to Sevilla last Saturday, who were top of the table before kick-off.

Valverde would have been delighted to see his side end their winless streak in La Liga before the El Clasico, but the 54-year-old was left gutted as Messi was forced off in the first half against the Andalusians after fracturing his right arm, with the Argentine predicted to miss three weeks of action as a result.

That will come as a hammer blow to Barca, with the 31-year-old currently one of the top goalscorers in La Liga as well as the top assist maker. He has seven goals and five assists in nine games and will be sorely missed on Sunday. The most natural fit to replace him appears to be Ousmane Dembele, but whatever Valverde decides, the likes of Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho have to step up.


Real Madrid
Real Madrid come into the El Clasico in seventh position with Lopetegui widely expected to be shown the exit door, with talk of former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte likely to come in, while former players Santiago Solari and Guti are other names linked with the club. In my opinion, anyone would do a better job than Lopetegui right now. The former Spain manager took over from Zinedine Zidane in June and has won just five of his 12 games in charge.

Los Blancos started the season off strongly, winning their first three games in La Liga, beating Getafe (2-0), Girona (1-4) and Leganes (4-1). Lopetegui’s side then had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao but bounced back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory at home to Espanyol.

Since then, Madrid have failed to win in five matches across all competitions at the time of writing, suffering four defeats, while scoring just once in that run. They were thumped 3-0 at Sevilla, played to a goalless draw at the Bernabeu against Atletico Madrid, suffered back-to-back 1-0 losses against CSKA Moscow (UEFA CL) and Alaves, before going down 2-1 at home to Levante.

It’s no secret that Los Blancos have missed Ronaldo, but with the amount of quality Lopetegui has at his disposal, they should be in a better position. With the goalscoring threats of Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, Madrid should not be struggling to score goals. Lopetegui, if still in charge at the weekend, will be hoping his stars improve.

Asensio has only scored one goal and provided one assist this season. Madrid fans will be hoping their young Spaniard will rise to the occasion and fire them to a much-needed victory.

Probable line-ups:

Barcelona: 4-3-3
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Coutinho, Suarez, Dembele.

Real Madrid: 4-3-3
Courtois; Odriozola, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Isco; Asensio, Benzema, Bale.

Verdict: Barcelona (21/20)
Despite Barcelona being without Messi, I fancy the Catalans to come out on top here. Real Madrid have been dreadful with many of their star players low on confidence while the uncertainty surrounding Lopetegui isn’t helping.






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