Real Madrid renew rivalry with Barcelona on Sunday at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in the final El Clasico of the 2016/2017 season.
El Clssico, arguably the biggest and best fixture on the world football calendar.
There may be older rivalries, but there are none fixture which compare to the quality and excitement of El Clasico.
Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the most successful clubs, from the two biggest cities in Spain with the world’s greatest players.
The results from the El Clasico could go a long way in clinching the title for either clubs
Madrid come into Sunday’s match following a 4-2 win over Bayern Munich on Tuesday night in the Champions League quarterfinals game at the Santiago Bernabau.
Zidane’s Real Madrid can take a huge step towards the title if they claim the three points, but Barcelona will be out to blow the race wide open.
This might be the title decider with Barcelona needing all three points to keep their hopes alive. The good news for them is that they do have a good recent record in the Bernabeu so all hope is not lost for them. Real on the other hand could settle for a point as they have a game at hand and are three points clear with seven games left, while Barcelona have six.
However, Real will be looking to finish ahead their archrivals going by their good home run, also with five days to recover.
Real Madrid rested 9 of their starting 11, as Ronaldo, Carvajal, Navas, and Benzema didn’t make the match day squad against Sporting Gijón to remain fresh for their Champions League and El Clasico game over the weekend.
Barcelona are already without Neymar for the El Clasico; not having Neymar is certainly a blow, especially in a match that Barcelona can’t afford to lose and now Mascherano is also set to be on the sidelines for Sunday. The Catalan side is scheduled to have a tough time with 2 of their key players out of the El Clasico.
With Mascherano injured, Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is set to turn to Samuel Umtiti to partner Gerard Pique in the heart of the defence. The Frenchman has played 32 matches for the Catalan side this season, and they have lost just four times when he has started.
Enrique has opted for the Pique-Umtiti combo before but has resulted in two of the most humiliating defeats of the season 4-0 at Paris Saint-German and 3-0 at Juventus earlier this week. However, the return of Sergio Busquets will be a major boost for Enrique.
Zidane remain on beating in the El Clasico as Madrid manager, recording a win and draw in the two games he has managed so far since taking over from Rafa Benitez, with the best home and away record this season in the league, as well as the reverse fixture ended 1-1 with Ramos 90th min goal canceling out Suarez opener, he is set to continue his unbeaten record against them.
Both teams have had good seasons, but Real Madrid remain top of the LaLiga table.
Real have maintained a hundred percent home record, played 16 games, won 12, drawn 4 and lost 0.
Barcelona have lost 3 away games from 16 matches, won 10 and drawn 3.
Real Madrid have scored in all their home games, conceding in 11 whilst Barca have scored in 15 away and also conceded in 11. Real are unbeaten in their last 11 in all competitions but Barca have lost 3 of their last 7 in all competitions.
Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas believes the pressure is greater on Barcelona ahead of Sunday’s Clasico.
La Liga’s top two meet at the Santiago Bernabeu in what could be a decisive fixture in this season’s title race.
Madrid hold a three-point lead over the champions, with a game in hand, and former Bernabeu captain Casillas feels Madrid deserve to be crowned champions for their performances this season, while warning Barca that a defeat could end the defence of their crown.
“As a one-off game, it’ll do a lot more damage to Barcelona,” he said.
“I want Madrid to win and secure La Liga that little bit more. They deserve it.”
There has been a goal in the first eleven minutes in the last five league meetings in Madrid. There has also been a red card in four of the last eight league meetings, three for Real and one for Barcelona.
Will early goal be crucial in these game or are we going to have a game of ten against eleven in our hands, Gareth Bale may struggle to recover from a knock for Real and Mascherano is a doubt for Barcelona with Neymar ruled out through suspension. So, who wins the El Clasico and will Zidane maintain his clean sheet against Barcelona?
I guess, time will tell.
Anthony Nlebem and Adebowale Ismail