CLÁSICO PREVIEW | Real Madrid v FC Barcelona

CLÁSICO PREVIEW | Real Madrid v FC Barcelona

The Santiago Bernabéu is the venue for the 250th Clásico, with the rivals neck-and-neck at the top of the Liga table

It’s Clásico time again! The day when the two teams that traditionally top the league come face to face. Since 2005, only Atlético Madrid (four times) and Villarreal (once) have interrupted FC Barcelona and Real Madrid’s utter domination of the top two spots in La Liga.

Judging by early form, 2022/23 should bring more of the same. After eight games, the two rivals are unbeaten, both with seven wins and one draw (Barça in their opening game against Rayo Vallecano and Madrid to Osasuna in week seven).

So although we aren’t even a quarter of the way into the season, the outcome of Sunday’s 4.15pm CEST kick-off at the Santiago Bernabéu is sure to have a huge bearing on where the trophy ends up in May.

Barça go into the game on the back of a major blow midweek. The 3-3 draw with Inter Milan could well mean the Catalans will play no part in the Champions League knockout stage. Naturally, there is a despondent mood among Culers right now, but at the same time it means the hunger to win the league is now stronger than ever.

Both coach Xavi and president Joan Laporta have insisted this week that rather than a daunting challenge, facing Real Madrid at a moment like this should be viewed as a fantastic opportunity to go out and prove a point.

Last season, Barça marched to the Bernabéu and came back with an emphatic 4-0 win, having totally outclassed the all-whites with their champagne football. On that occasion, Barça were already too many points adrift to harbour any realistic hopes of winning the league table. That victory proved a point of a very different kind.

Victory tomorrow would be Barça’s way of reminding the world that although they have suffered a cruel fate in Europe, they are still determined to finish this season in the same position they are now... Top.

But that’s not to say it’s going to be easy. Winning away to a club that’s won eight Ligas and seven Champions Leagues since the turn of the century is never going to be. But Barça have done that no fewer than eight times in either the league or cup in the last decade.

So let’s do it again!


Last time we met

The 4-0 last season was one of Barça's biggest ever wins at the Bernabéu, with two goals from Aubameyang and one each from Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres.

But there has been an even more recent Clásico than that. This summer the two clubs met up in Las Vegas for a preseason friendly, with Barça winning again, this time 1-0 thanks to Raphina's superb goal:


Team news

Barça are recovering resources after so many players came back from the ill-fated international break carrying injuries. The defence was especially badly hit, so it’s particularly good news that Jules Kounde has been given the medical all-clear.

Defenders Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen and Hector Bellerín are still out, as is striker Memphis Depay.

Madrid’s biggest concern is the absence of Thibaut Courtois, one of the best goalkeepers in the world right now, with a back issue. Dani Ceballos is also out with a hamstring problem, but despite picking up a nasty head injury while scoring against Shakthar on Tuesday, it would seem that Antonio Rudiger will be able to make his Clásico debut.

What they’re saying

Barça coach Xavi

"El Clásico is a great opportunity for us. It’s challenge and we need to change the chip. … The three points are important but it’s more about boosting our morale and confidence, and that’s as important for Real Madrid as it is for us. But you have to remember that we are still building this team. We’re angry about the setback in the Champions League, but we’re on the right track.”

“There’s no mental problem. Ultimately, we drew with Inter and could have won. The team fought with all their soul and faith but just didn’t get the result they needed. The circumstances are not the same this year as they were last year. You can view things catastrophically,  or you can do like me and see the positive side of things.”

“We’re missing Ronald Araujo, who did a great job on Vinicius last year. Whoever replaces him will need to do just as well, but he’ll need cover.”


Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti

“Barça has a style that its fans like, the club likes. It is an idea that has brought them success … But personally I don’t think it’s right to have a single style because players change and you need your players to be comfortable with the way their team plays.”

“There are no inventors of football, it was invented a long time ago … Last year I did try to invent something and I paid a heavy price for it.”

“Barça have only drawn one game in La Liga. They’ve had some problems in the Champions League but that can happen in that competition. But they’ve been spectacular in the league.”

Marc Ter Stegen

The German goalkeeper, who is in such outstanding form this season, also spoke to the press this week.


Robert Lewandowski

This may be the Pole's first Clásico, but in Champions League games for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich he has faced Madrid eight times before, scoring six goals.


Did you know?

While Barça have only conceded one goal in eight games, Real Madrid’s 1-0 defeat of Getafe last week was their first clean sheet of the league season.

This is the 250th competitive meeting between these clubs. It’s tight, but Real Madrid lead the series 100-97.

If he plays and Barça win, Sergio Busquets will equal Francisco Gento’s all-time record of 21 victories in El Clásico.

FC Barcelona will be wearing a unique shirt for this game, featuring the owl logo of Canadian singer Drake as part of the deal with Spotify.

This is the 100th Clásico at the Santiago Bernabéu, and also the ‘last’. The next time the teams meet at the stadium, the ‘New’ Bernabéu is planned to be ready, including 4,000 more seats.

With seven goals, Karim Benzema is the second highest goalscorer in Clásicos this century. Leo Messi, of course, is top.


Força Barça
Força Barça

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