PREVIEW | Real Madrid v FC Barcelona

PREVIEW | Real Madrid v FC Barcelona

It's El Clásico time (9pm CEST), where victory at the Santiago Bernabéu would close the gap at the top of the Liga table to five points

It's not been a great week so far at FC Barcelona. Exit from the Champions League in such a frustrating manner at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain has hurt very badly indeed. But five days later comes the ideal opportunity to cure a lot of that pain. It's El Clásico, and although the situation right now in La Liga is a very delicate one indeed, all that could change with victory at the Santiago Bernabéu in the Sunday 9pm CEST showdown (click here to find out what time that is where you are in the world).

Going into the game, Real Madrid have a sizeable 8-point lead on Barça. Should they win that and widen the gap to 11, then barring a miracle, the championship race would be as good as over. But should Barça win in 'enemy territory', something they have already done five times in the last decade, then that would change the story completely. The difference would then be just five points, and with six games still remaining, Barça would be right back in contention for a 28th domestic title.


Karol G's turn on the shirt

Following games against Madrid in which, as part of its partnership with Spotify, Barça have worn the logos of top music acts Drake, the Rolling Stones and Rosalia. This time it's the turn of Colombian sensation Karol G and her iconic thorned heart symbol that will be appearing on the players' chests, as it already did for the women's fixture with Villarreal last weekend. The launch video for the campaign featuring men's and women's football first team players has racked up more than 35 millions plays on the FC Barcelona Instagram account in just one week. The photo gallery with the KAROL G jersey has also been liked 3.2 million times, with almost 12,000 comments posted.

Team news

Other than Gavi and Alejandro Balde, who are both out for the season, Barça have no other injury concerns, and Robert Lewandowski, João Cancelo and Iñigo Martinez are all back after sitting out the Cádiz game with respective suspensions. Sergi Roberto and Andreas Christensen also return after being suspended for the game with PSG.

The situation is fairly similar in the Real Madrid camp, where there are also no new concerns other than long-term absentees defender David Alaba and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Head to head

With five wins in the last ten Clásicos at the Bernabeu, there is no reason whatsoever not to believe that the Catalans can't do it again. Last season's meeting was a disappointing 3-1 reverse for Barça, but the year before they came away with a stunning 4-0 victory.

Curiously, home advantage has not been a very decisive factor at all in recent Clásicos, and if anything it has been the teams playing away that have generally performed better. The meeting at the Estadi Olimpic earlier this season was just the latest example, with Jude Bellingham's injury time goal seizing a 2-1 win for Madrid, which is one of the main reasons why the league table looks the way it does right now.

Real Madrid form guide

However, winning at the Bernabeu is never an easy thing to do. Indeed, this season, and in all competitions, nobody has managed to do it. The all-whites have only lost two matches all season, both at the Cívitas Metropolitano, home of Atlético Madrid, once in the league and once in the cup.

As well as their impressive Liga form, where they are unbeaten in 25 games (19 of them wins), Real have also marched all the way to the semi-finals of the Champions League. They finished their group with a 100% record, then squeezed past RB Leipzig and this Wednesday just gone they managed to dump out defending champions Manchester City in a penalty shootout. They'll now be facing Bayern Munich for a place in the final.

What they're saying

Ilkay Gündoğan said Barça can 'use disappointment as motivation' referring to the mood in the team camp following the Champions League setback, while Ronald Araujo, the man whose red card has such an impact on the loss on Tuesday,  has said the team is ready to 'give everything' in Sunday's showdown.

As for coach Xavi Hernández, he was willing to admit that La Liga is almost over for his team, but insists that they intend to keep competing right until the end, and that necessarily means winning on Sunday.


Força Barça
Força Barça

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