El Clasico: Barcelona and Real Madrid prepare for huge showdown
There have already been a few twists and turns in La Liga this season. However, the standout match this weekend is Barcelona v Real Madrid. The El Clasico is always marked in the calendar as the game to look forward to, and we will run through everything you need to know about the Nou Camp clash on Sunday, including the latest odds.
Barcelona kick off big week with pivotal win
Ronald Koeman has been under the microscope this season, and Barcelona have seemed to lurch at times from one crisis to another. At present, they are seventh in the table with 15 points to their name, but the magnitude of their 3-1 victory at home to Valencia can’t be understated.
Ansu Fati marked his first start in over a year with a goal to provide the platform for victory, while Memphis Depay and Philippe Coutinho also got in on the act. Barca have appeared bereft of confidence this campaign, but the victory will be a welcome relief for Koeman, whose side face Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League before locking horns with their bitter rivals.
Sergio Aguero makes long-awaited debut for Barcelona
With his Barcelona debut delayed due to injury, the Nou Camp faithful will be delighted to have seen Sergio Aguero make his competitive debut for the club. After scoring in a behind-closed-doors friendly during the recent international break, the Argentine made a three-minute cameo against Valencia. He will be hoping to get more minutes under his belt against Real.
Nou Camp given green light to have a full crowd
Against Valencia, 47,000 fans were in attendance. It was the first La Liga game at the Nou Camp in over 18 months with a capacity crowd after the government relaxed COVID restrictions. But this weekend, Barca will be roared on by a home crowd and the stadium will be rocking for the first El Clasico clash of the campaign.
Real Madrid eager to get back to winning ways after Espanyol surprise
Real Madrid will be eager to get back to winning ways after a dramatic wobble before the international break. Before losing their first La Liga game of the season 2-1 away to Espanyol, they were stunned by FC Sheriff in their opening Champions League clash. Carlo Ancelotti’s men had performed admirably until then, but they will be punished by Barca if they are below par.
Real Madrid forced to reshuffle as injury problems pile up
It will be interesting to see how Real Madrid line up against Barcelona. Eder Militao, who can play as a right-back or a defensive midfielder, picked up a calf injury while on international duty with Brazil. David Alaba, meanwhile, is a serious doubt for the Champions League tie with Shakhtar Donetsk after succumbing to an ankle injury while playing for Austria against Denmark.
Ancelotti could therefore be forced into a reshuffle at the back, however, the Italian tactician will be desperate to tighten up a defence that has already conceded 10 goals this season. That is more than any of the other sides in the top four in La Liga this season.
Nevertheless, Real will be buoyed by the blossoming partnership that has formed between Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior. Between them, the pair have rattled 15 goals in Spain’s top flight, and they will look to plug any gaps vacated by Barca.
Barcelona v Real Madrid: The first clash without Lionel Messi
El Clasico matches have often been dramatic affairs, and one in which Lionel Messi has invariably had the final say. The diminutive Argentine weighed in with 26 goals in this fiercely contested derby before leaving the Catalan giants for Paris Saint-Germain over the summer. Barca, however, will have to find a way to win without Messi’s magic.
And although Barca are ahead in the overall head-to-head record, Real won both home and away last season. Almost exactly a year ago, Real tore Barca to shreds at the Nou Camp as they ran out 3-1 winners, with Luka Modric sealing the points for the visitors. A win for Los Blancos would certainly heap the pressure back on Koeman.
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