Preview: FC Barcelona v Real Madrid

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (C) dribbles the ball in front of Real Madrid's Brazilian midfielder Casemiro (L) during the Spanish league "Clasico" football match FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on April 2, 2016. / AFP / PAU BARRENA (Photo credit should read PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images)

Saturday will mark the 265th Clásico meeting between these two teams, the best in Spain for many years now. For Barça, this particular match is crucial, as Madrid sit six points ahead of them in La Liga standings. Cutting their lead to three would be a great result if Barcelona can get a win. Despite their bad play of late, it’s not impossible. In fact, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, and Alvaro Morata are now definitely out for Madrid while Andrés Iniesta might make a return from his knee injury suffered against Valencia.

Barcelona’s last game against Hercules wasn’t too impressive, with the team notching a 1-1 tie against the Segunda B side. Carles Aleñá scored from 25 yards out to equalize in the 58th minute. Madrid’s last game against Cultural Leonesa saw them net 6 in a victory.

Aside from the Clásico feel and passion the most-watched match in the world provokes, this one has an extra sense of desperation for Barça fans. In a season we haven’t been playing too well, a win against a bitter rival would go a long way to restoring the confidence of the team. If Luis Enrique has a good showing, the criticisms he’s been facing might die down a bit. Overall, the match carries an importance beyond just the most important game in the world (if that’s possible). Gerard Piqué said it best this way: “El Clásico is more crucial to Barcelona than Real Madrid”.

Also important to note is that Sevilla FC are currently joint second with Barcelona, having 27 points as well. Barça need to win, not only for pride, but to make sure they stay second in the league.

 

Recent form 

Barcelona last match:

Starting XI: Cillessen – Aleix Vidal, Samuel Umtiti, Borja Lopez, Digne – Rafinha, Alejandro Carbonell, Denis Suárez – Carles Aleñá, Paco Alcácer, Arda Turan.

Result: 1-1 draw against Hercules, Carles Aleñá (’58)

Barcelona’s last five results: D-W-L-W-D

Real Madrid last match: 

Starting XI: Kiko Casilla – Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Nacho – James, Casemiro, Mariano, Asensio – Isco, Odegaard, Tejero

Result: 6-1 win against Cultural Leonesa

Real Madrid’s last five results: W-W-W-D-W

 

Team News

Barcelona will hopefully welcome back Iniesta after being a month without him. Jordi Alba, Piqué, and Samuel Umtiti all appear good to go. Madrid will miss Bale, Kroos, Danilo, and Morata.

Messi hasn’t scored against Madrid in his last five games. However, having netted 2 against Celtic and another versus Real Sociedad, he’s in good goal scoring form. It’ll be interesting to see if Messi can score against Real this time around, and if he has a good game, that’ll be good news for culés.

 

Match Prediction 

Despite all evidence to the contrary, in Lucho we trust. 2-1 to Barça.

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  • LaurensBarca

    Honestly the result of this game is dependent on who wants the win more. Lately the team plays as if they are already leading the table with 15 points. It is pathetic. Like i always say no one should doubt the boys. When they bring their best game on, they are almost unstoppable. I have a feeling we will win by a 2 goal margin. However i doubt we can keep a clean sheet. Let us all rally behind the team. 3:1 to Barcelona is my bold prediction.

  • Kneowell Anyanwu

    In another space, Pep goes 4 straight home games without a win, loses to chelsea and gets 2 key players sent off. Typically no one would blame pep for this poor run of form, but I’m wondering if lucho would have survived same without the Lucho out chants (even if he won those 4 games playing pretty poorly) bearing in mind that the only marginal difference between both teams (city and barca) is basically Lionel messi. If this were lucho his tactics would have been questioned, but ofcourse it’s almighty pep, who dares question his tactics, line ups and formations even when they appear to be wrong at times. But oh, can we say his tactics are wrong or is it his players that isn’t effective in their individual assignments in the set tactics? Yes I think this is it, pep never gets his tactics wrong, individuals screwed up and the coach can’t be blamed for that. But what if for a moment we saw lucho instead Pep standing there as mancity coach, hell yeah the it would have all been Lucho’s fault at that point, it would have all been Lucho’s responsibility to make sure the players do their jobs, he has the best talent in the world, it’s totally his fault!

  • Kneowell Anyanwu

    That’s surely a penalty for madrid, Mash be careful

  • Nana Kwame Koranteng

    and he takes of rakitic again leaving the slow andre gomes on

  • Kneowell Anyanwu

    Don andres just brought with him the whole of barca midfield play, the midfield play suddenly looks familiar. And busquet is looking himself once again all day long, though his mobility isn’t top notch yet, but his body movement is

  • Kneowell Anyanwu

    Iniesta just showed us again and again that the available players decides the effectiveness of a system and not the other way round

    • Pius Kamau

      He doesn’t necessarily do that, this argument you’re using is just to confirm your school of thought. Iniesta’s difference is just a depiction of individual quality, it’s possible, very possible to make players with lesser talent play a good, compact passing and positional play, it just needs a quality coach.

      • Kneowell Anyanwu

        Oh yeah? You even deny the obvious in the face of it? Lol. You think these players are robots or something that you can make play exactly the way another plays? Isn’t that same individual quality the reason why iniesta xavi era of barca midfield distinct from what we have now? Didn’t you see that individual quality immediately transform our ailing midfield? Yes it’s very possible to make average players play good, but it is absolutely impossible to make average players play like Iniesta in just 2-3 seasons. The midfiels that you’ve come to know and admire was crafted by maestros (xavi and iniesta) and no matter how good your average players become, it is impossible for them to replicate that midfield you love because they simply do not have individual quality of xavi or an iniesta. Stop living in the past Pius and shooting yourself on the foot all the time. Yes barca can have a good midfield, but with what we have now? I’m sorry you cant have that midfield pep have, No, you just can’t. You can go ahead and cry on about how you are the best club in the world and how you deserve more, but sorry xavi iniesta are a one life time player, will surely take decades to get that quality of theirs again.

        • Pius Kamau

          You see Knoewell, you are very stubborn which is why the likes of Serkan Servas find it hard to explain anything to you.
          First off I didn’t say I want the exact “Iniesta-Xavi” replica in midfield, nobody said that.
          I just said that it’s possible for our collective passing and positional play to IMPROVE MASSIVELY even with the players we have now, it doesn’t have to be the Pep-level artistry but something decent, something good, something BETTER than what we have. I know Iniesta and Xavi are probably once in a lifetime talents, I didn’t say I want players like them, I said I want a coach who WILL IMPROVE OUR OVERALL GAME technically and tactically because we do have decent players. What’s so difficult about understanding that?

          • Kneowell Anyanwu

            Lol, dear Pius, all you are good at is deflecting the point and darting here and there when you get caught, yes we both agree to one thing, we have get better from what we have now no doubt and trust me we are at it. The barca system is not what one can just fit in or get a hang on in a day or two, somethings it takes upto a full season for an outsider. If it were that easy pep would make hleb, song, fabregas, jonathan dos Santos, jiovani dos Santos…and a host of them superstars in our own midfield, does it come to you as a coincidence that of all the midfielders who debuted under pep, only busquet was able to keep his shirt till date? If all those guys you called were good enough for a barca midfield would they all have been sold? You know I usually have this issue of short selective memory with you all, you just pointed out to me how Lucho’s team was outplayed by real sociedad, a side that’s been on top flight spanish league for ages, a side who pep in all his midfield artistry could not overcome, but ofcourse you failed to mention to me how we were outplayed by a certain hercules on matchday 1 of pep’s second season with barca FULL SQUAD. You also forgot to mention to me how poorly pep’s team performed away to a strong side in the UCL, but you quickly remember how we beat a bate who? An insignificant match whose outcome didn’t affect the position of both parties in the game as barca was already tops on the group and Bate were third already in a pretty much wrapped up group. That’s very funny. If you think individual quality doesn’t matter I might want to hear you entertain me on how iniesta was able to change the game immediately he stepped in, or did the coach suddenly instill “technical and tactical elements of coaching” in iniesta? Lol. Come to think of it, look at pep’s current club, do you think their midfield is doing any better than ours at the moment? Can you say that? Even with the king of positional play as coach. Look at kloop, his game is riding on the strength of coutinho, mane, and flirmino, did you see how they lost to a minow after being up by 3 goals to one? Did you also notice a sampaoli in sevilla? How he lost to a bottom granada? These are the top coaches you boast of, you think they are invincible in any way? Serkan has been the way he is since pep left and so has Grega, yet the 3 of you still can’t prove to me anyclub in the world played better football than we did in the last 2 seasons, you all want to chew Lucho because he’s 6 points behind on matchday 13 with injured players and news ones to integrate. You’ll are just spectators, not supporters

          • Kneowell Anyanwu

            There is a reason why your guy serkan wanted ribbery and robben to be in that game we played against bayern, not because bayern still don’t play quality football without them, but because bayern of then isn’t just the same without that duo, what they put on the table because of their individual quality is immeasurable and that is why their absence meant playing “a depleted bayern side”. Same goes applies when a barca play without an andres iniesta who’s about the most technically gifted midfielder on earth whose technics on the ball is second to only messi, a big chunk of our midfield suddenly leaves with his absence and boy what a chunk that is! we might still possess the opponent but we just can’t be as dominant as we would be with iniesta, take away a messi from barca and we all scream messidependencia, take away iniesta and we scream ‘where is the midfield’ take away a pique or alba and the identity of our backline just ain’t the same, why? Because these players have imposed their individual quality on the game so so much that we confuse their qualities for the actual system of the club. Do we have the talent to play good football? Yes! But there is no way on earth a dennis suarez can boss the game the way iniesta does, no way he can read the game that much, no way he can make those outrageous slices of passes iniesta makes which changes a game, this is not to say dennis suarez isn’t excelling in positional play but trust me, positional play alone can only achieve little, that talent, that skill, that magic that rattles the opponent can’t be overemphasised, not now, not in pep’s era. For iniesta? Just cannot sweep the quality that 20 years of football in over 600 games brings to the table just because you want to disprove me, that is soo impossible to do mate, sorry!You should also go to twitter for instance and see how everyone except you ofcourse see the difference that iniesta brought to our game, and how they were saying “the midfield wasn’t lost afterall”

  • Kneowell Anyanwu

    We got unlucky, and madrid was, if only Neymar and Messi scored that second goal… but let’s do this! I’m certain madrid will drop points, this is just matchday 13

    • Eivind Niclasen

      When exactly will they lose points? I only see one team losing points, and that team is Barca. If Real Madrid struggles in a game, they usually get a soft, or free, penalty to calm things down. Usually in the first 15 minutes of a game. Job done.
      Meanwhile, Barca struggles to beat the likes of Malaga at home. There is no system to speak of and the players look like they have just met. None of the summer signings have scored a goal yet – and we´re in frigging December! It will be interesting to see who replaces Luis Enrique next summer.

      • Kneowell Anyanwu

        Elvind what you see has never been anything to go by, I won’t be surprised if you also see misfortune for yourself when u have a bad day or a bad spell at work, your pessimism is utterly terrible, you really think madrid will play 25 more matches without dropping points? We drop to malaga ans so what? The world should come to an end? Did you as much as get more than a draw against malaga 2 seasons ago? Go vent your frustration elsewhere please, I’m surprised you are still watch barca games and care enough to follow cos all you do is hope lucho is replaced every every season since his first. Talk about new signings not scoring like they are all strikers, you have a certain masherano who hasn’t scored in 8 seasons, you should also worry about that

  • James Bryan Toeng

    tactical change screwed us up. if enrique didnt sub in denis suarez there will be more pressing up front. andre gomes is slow but at least he keeps the tempo down. I think 1 – 1 isnt too bad for us because it gives alot of room to improve for next el clasico. we gonna smoke em up next round. see, if we lost today that would have been a total disaster. There were so many “real” chances for madrid than do. Neymar isn’t very focused, and for some reason, Messi underperforms against keylor navas. Casillas was his favourite victim XD XD XD

  • Muhammad Shahab

    It looks like we haven’t found a replacement to Iniesta yet. Halilovic would be an incredible long term replacement, he is a similar player. I don’t get the rationale of replacing Iniesta with Gomes, Gomes is more like Rakitic IMO. We were basically playing with two Rakitic’s last night.

    • Pius Kamau

      Same sentiments!

    • Kneowell Anyanwu

      There goes the problem, replacement for iniesta? Which player right now on earth can replace iniesta? Which player comes close? Except maybe Modric? There simply isn’t any replacement for iniesta, his skill set is very rare. Halilovic brings his own qualities maybe, while he’ll be a solid addition in the long run but he is no iniesta replacement. No one becomes an iniesta overnight. We cules will probably ask for a replacement for messi once he ages too, criminally forgetting that no one, and I mean no one can bring the qualities possessed by Messi. Yes we will get substitutes, but replacements? I strongly doubt that