Real Madrid vs Barcelona preview
There is no Lionel Messi. There is no Cristiano Ronaldo, But the allure and grandeur of the El Clasico remain. On Sunday (October 16), Real Madrid and Barcelona will lock horns in a top-of-the-table clash. The match has significant implications for both teams coming off insipid displays in the UEFA Champions League.
However, both teams have been in prime form in the domestic league. Barcelona started their La Liga campaign with a 0-0 home draw against Rayo Vallecano but have won seven straight matches since then. They have scored 20 goals during this time, the most in the league and have conceded only one goal, the least in the league.
All that form has not been replicated in the Champions League. The Catalan started their campaign with an impressive 5-1 win over Viktoria Plzen. However, the team has lost two matches and drawn one since then. Their latest game, a 3-3 draw against Inter Milan, leaves their qualification hopes hanging by a thread.
This happened after Barcelona sold their stakes to activate economic levers to bring in top players such as Raphinha (signed from Leeds), Jules Kounde (Signed from Sevilla), Robert Lewandowski (signed from Bayern Munich), Hector Belleirin (signed from Arsenal) and several others.
On the other hand, Madrid also needed an injury-time goal from Antonio Rudiger to draw against Shakhtar Donetsk. However, unlike Barcelona, Los Blancos are top of their group and have already qualified for the Round of 16. And now they will be looking to inflict further misery on Barcelona by wresting away the top spot away from the Catalans.
For Real Madrid, Vinicius Jr has been the star scoring five goals and is also the best player in the league in terms of Expected Threat (xT). However, the form of Karim Benzema has been a worry, with the Frenchman only scoring three goals till now.
— FootTheBall FC (@FootTheBallFC) October 13, 2022
Real Madrid vs Barcelona team news
The medical team at Real Madrid must be getting bored lately. This is because, barring Thibaut Courtois, the team does not have any injuries. Even the Belgian shot-stopper is expected to be fit for the El Clasico. And thus, Carlo Ancelotti has a fully-fit squad to choose from, which is a problem of its own. One of the major headaches for Ancelotti will be the centre of the defence, with David Alaba, Antonio Rudiger, and Eder Militao fighting for the two spots.
Predicted Real Madrid lineup: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Mendy;Tchouameni, Kroos, Modric; Vinícius, Benzema, Valverde
On the other hand, Barcelona have been marred by injury after injury. The club currently have five players out with injury. Out of these, four are defenders, as Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Hector Bellerín, and Andreas Christensen are on the sidelines. This affected them heavily as Gerard Pique’s underwhelming display against Inter Milan has almost eliminated them from the Champions League. To make matters worse, none of them will be fit for El Clasico, which will force Xavi to play Eric Garcia and Pique in the centre of the defence.
Predicted Barcelona lineup: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Garcia, Balde; De Jong, Pedri, Gavi; Dembele, Raphinha, Lewandowski
🎙️| Ancelotti: “El Clasico? We’ve arranged for Xavi to come 2 days early to judge the grass height at the Bernabeu. We also provided him with a set of scissors in case he wants to tweak it. He won’t be able to complain about it after we beat them here.” #rmalive
— Madrid Zone (@theMadridlZone) October 8, 2022
Real Madrid look like a well-rounded team which plays as a cohesive unit rather than depending on a single player. So naturally, this makes them a very dangerous proposition, as there are multiple players who can turn a match around on their own. However, if one had to choose a game-changer, it would undoubtedly be Vinicius Jr. The Brazilian has gone from strength to strength and has established himself as one of the best attackers in football. And Ancelotti will be expecting him to fire once again in the biggest match of La Liga.
Barcelona spent € 50 million to bring Lewandowski to Camp Nou. And the Pole has not disappointed, scoring 14 goals in 12 matches. Lewandowski is the top scorer in both La Liga and the Champions League. And he will be the leading man when they travel to Camp Nou as Barcelona look to put the Champions League disappointment behind them.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona predictions
The El Clasico has always been a big match, no matter what. Many people refer to it as the biggest match in world football. However, the upcoming game has the added drama of a top-of-the-table clash. It is hard to predict the result of El Clasico due to the highly charged environment that inspires players to give the performance of their lifetime.
However, the home crowd’s support and Barcelona’s defensive problem will give Real Madrid a considerable advantage.
FootTheBall predicts a 3-1 win for Real Madrid.