On the same day when Manchester United will take on Liverpool, Inter Milan will battle against Juventus, PSG will square off against Marseille, and India and Pakistan will collide in the T20 World Cup, El Clasico will mark a change of guard for both Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The previous decade in international football has belonged to Barcelona and Real Madrid. Between 2010 and 2020, they have shared six Champions League titles between them. The best players in the world also used to play for the Spanish heavyweights.
However, several years on and both teams have lost their gravity to a pretty large extent. Barcelona no longer has the likes of Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Xavi, and Iniesta while Real Madrid are without the services of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane, and Sergio Ramos.
It also marks a general sense of La Liga losing a lot of its edge and its biggest selling point ‘El Clasico’ has gone from being the biggest fixture in the footballing calendar to just another big game at this juncture.
With that being said, El Clasicos have always been about more than what it means on the surface. The fixture holds a century of significance to both sets of fans and is also regarded as the ultimate bragging right.
Let’s discuss both Barcelona and Real Madrid in details as we build up to El Clasico.
BARCELONA IN LA LIGA SO FAR THIS SEASON
Barcelona haVE been going through the worst economic, sporting, and institutional crisis in this century. Years of mismanagement under former President Bartomeu has riddled the club in debt of over 1 billion euros and they also had to part ways with their leader, saviour, and greatest player Lionel Messi this summer.
Ronald Koeman has failed to inspire any confidence in the early showings of the season and Barcelona have been a walking disaster in La Liga. After eight matches, they are seventh in the table – a position that almost cannot be imaginable for a club of Barcelona’s stature.
The Catalans have won four times, drawn on three occasions, and have also lost a game. Their defence has been easily exposed by top sides in Europe this season and Barcelona have only managed to scrape through in games they’ve won.
Barcelona, who failed to beat Real Madrid across both fixtures last season, will have to play out of their skins in order to get any sort of a consolation or positive result from this game.
PREDICTED LINEUP AND TACTICS AGAINST REAL MADRID
Not only are the Catalans dealing with a lack of form, they will also have to suffer because of injuries to several key players ahead of El Clasico.
Barcelona are expected to miss the services of Ronald Araujo who has been their best defender all season. They will also be without young starlet Pedri who has taken the world by storm with his rapid rise.
As a result, we might see a defensive duo of Eric Garcia and Gerard Pique accompanied by Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest on either flank. Dest could also be asked to push up-field and Sergi Roberto might be accommodated at right back instead.
In midfield, Sergio Busquets is expected to play the pivot while Frenkie de Jong might start with youngster Gavi in this high-profile clash.
Up top, Ansu Fati who has recovered from a lengthy spell on the sidelines and has announced his return with a couple of brilliant goals might start the game. Fati recently put pen to paper to a contract that will keep him at Barcelona until 2027. Dutch international Memphis Depay will partner FatI upfront.
Probable Playing XI (4-3-3): Marc Andre Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia, Jordi Alba, Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets, Gavi, Sergino Dest, Memphis Depay, Ansu Fati
REAL MADRID IN LA LIGA SO FAR THIS SEASON
Real Madrid have had a pretty underwhelming transfer window and they even lost the experienced centre-back duo of Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos. Although the side do have their fair share of problems, they’ve done fairly well so far in La Liga mostly because of the lack of competition.
Los Blancos are in second place in the table. They’ve won five matches, drawn twice, and have lost a game. With 22 goals from eight matches, Real Madrid have been the most prolific team in front of goal this season.
Their recent 0-0 draw with Villarreal and 1-2 defeat at the hands of Espanyol could be a cause for concern although they are the clear favourites going into this game.
PREDICTED LINEUPS AND TACTICS AGAINST BARCELONA
Thibaut Courtois will start in goal for Madrid. David Alaba and Eder Militao are expected to partner at the back with Ferland Mendy and Lucas Vazquez handling the flanks.
The midfield trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos, and Luka Modric always manages to inspire confidence. Up top, Carlo Ancelotti might be tempted to start with Marco Asensio instead of Rodrygo to complete the duo of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr.
Probable Playing XI (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao, David Alaba, Ferland Mendy, Lucas Vazquez, Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Vinicius Jr, Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio.