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