The Spanish title race is tight with nine games to go: Atletico Madrid sit top on 66 points, with Barcelona one point behind in second and Real Madrid just three off leaders in third.
LaLiga glory seemed beyond Real Madrid and Barcelona earlier in the season, but Atletico’s drop of form has allowed the two Clasico rivals to shoot on the league chase.
If teams are level on points in LaLiga come the end of the season, head-to-head record – not goal difference – decides the title, which makes this Clasico potentially decisive.
Los Blancos are entering the El Clasico in great mood after a mid-week victory over Liverpool in the Champions League. Real Madrid has won 7 of their last 9 games in LaLiga and they are looking for a win against their fierce opponents to improve their shot at another title. However, they will be without Varane, Ramos, Carvajal, and Hazard.
After struggling in the previous round against Valladolid and only beating them 1-0 after they’ve received a red card, Barcelona is now on a six-game winning streak. The team has been rejuvenated after a change at the top and return of Joan Laporta as the club’s president, leading to a streak of 19 games without a loss. More importantly, Barcelona is now only a point behind Atletico Madrid and two points ahead of their next opponent. Neto, Coutinho, and Fati are injured and out of this match, while Pique is under question.
There is also the small matter of this potentially being Lionel Messi’s final Clasico: the Argentine talisman’s future is unclear beyond the summer, but there is no way that a player who has dominated so many of these mammoth contests in years gone by will want to sign off with anything less than three points and a star performance.
The recent head-to-head record between Real Madrid and Barcelona is split down the middle, with both sides winning two of their last five league meetings.
Real Madrid did, however, come away as 3-1 winners in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona is scheduled for 9pm Nigerian time on Saturday, April 10, 2021.
The match will be held behind closed doors at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. Real’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium is undergoing renovation works, so Real’s reserve stadium is serving as their home base given no fans can attend during the coronavirus pandemic.
Los Blancos captain Sergio Ramos is still out with a calf problem along with Dani Carvajal, while Eden Hazard has missed out on a return to the squad.
Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto are doubts for Barcelona, while Philipp Coutinho and Ansu Fati are both out.
With so much at stake in this weekend’s El Clasico, both teams will fancy their chances of exposing defensive weaknesses. Real Madrid exploited a static Liverpool defence in the Champions League and Barcelona will have to be wary of pace in behind on the flanks, while Los Blancos will, as ever, have to find a way to stop the genius that is Messi.
Also, both sides are brimming with confidence due to their current form and will be fired up for the derby, knowing that they cannot afford to lose this game. It’s hard to see a decisive winner from this battle.
That is most certainly the blockbuster match of the week in European football, with both teams knowing that they can, at least temporarily reach the top of the LaLiga table with a victory.
Real Madrid will aim to make it three El Clásico victories in a row, after winning 2-0 in their last home El Clásico and then 3-1 at the Camp Nou earlier this season.