El Classico, unarguably the most watched football derby aside from the Manchester derby is the meeting between Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. Two clubs with great tradition and history, intensity and drama and beyond all entertainment and value.
The first meeting between the two sides this season is here already and the weekend of October 16 will be a busy Sunday for most football fans and pundits globally. A meeting between them draws the numbers regardless of the form of each team ahead of the meeting and we expect to see the usual drama that often characterizes it. There is no Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or even Sergio Ramos but we can trust ourselves to not be denied any bit of entertainment including the drama in 90 minutes of football at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ahead of Sunday’s class, both clubs are seated on top of the La Liga table with 22 points accrued from seven wins and a draw each in eight La Liga games. Barcelona, however, lead on goal difference having scored more (20) and conceded less (1) as against Real’s 19 and 7 respectively. Osasuna was the club that got the better of the reigning Spanish champions after forcing them to a 1-1 draw in week seven while Rayo Vallecano held Barcelona to a goalless stalemate in week one.
In the last 10 La Liga meetings between the two sides, both clubs recorded four wins each with two resulting in a draw. However, Real Madrid has won four of the last five meetings between them with Barcelona claiming a comprehensive 0-4 win in the reverse fixture last season at Madrid’s home.
Barcelona has not beaten Real Madrid consecutively in the league since they last did so in 2018/2019.
Real Madrid has won three of their last five matches in all competitions while drawing two. Their Classico rivals also won three but lost two all in the Champions League against Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. Those defeats came away from home and would be some form of a measure of the club’s ability to hold themselves against top sides away from home.
Real Madrid has scored an average of 2.38 goals per game this season while conceding at a rate of 0.88 per game. They have a home record of 2-1-0 while Barcelona scores an average of 2.5 goals per match and concedes 0.13 per game. The Blaugrana has an away record of 4-0-0 in La Liga.
Los Blancos has scored first in 67% of their home matches this season while Barcelona has scored first in 100% of their La Liga matches this season.
Only in one match this season has Real Madrid been able to shut their doors meaning only one clean sheet in eight matches and that came away from home. Barcelona meanwhile, has conceded just once this season though that also came away from home.
Andriy Lunin who will be in the post against the Catalans this Sunday has played two matches in La Liga this season and conceded once from the three shots against him while saving two of the three shots. He will likely face more shots on Sunday against Robert Lewandoski and co. Ter Stegen on the other hand has faced 20 shots and saved 19 of them conceding only one in the process.
Robert Lewandoski who leads the scoring charts has s total of 31 shots in total this season with 61.3% on target. He averages 4.44 shots per 90 minutes and 2.72 on target per 90 minutes with 0.47 of the shots on target finding the back of the net. No other Barcelona player has more than two goals with Dembele, Ansu Fati and Pedri all having two.
Vinicius Junior is Madrid’s top scorer in La Liga with 5 goals. He has had 24 shots in eight matches he has played with 12 of them being on target. He has 3.07 shots per 90 minutes and 1.53 on target per 90 minutes with 0.42 of the shots on targets finding the back of the net.
Carlo Ancelotti does not have so much to worry about with injuries as Thibaut Courtois and Dani Ceballos are the only two absentees. He will also have Rudiger back after the German had an injury scare in the class with Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday. He’s fine according to an official publication on Real’s official website.
Xavi will do without the services of Memphis Depay, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Hector Bellerin who are all expected back in late October except Ronald Araujo who is expected back later in November.
With a healthy squad available, we expect Ancelotti to recall Alaba and Militao to pair at the back with Mendy and Carvajal taking up their places in the flanks. Modric should be back to partner Tchouaméni and Kroos should also remain in there after the masterclass against Shakhtar on Tuesday. And with Benzema fit now, he will lead the lines with the Brazilian duo of Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr joining him in the attack.
Injury has robbed Xavi of some options in defence but he can still call on Pique and co to see out the Benzema threat. So we expect Sergi Roberto, Eric Garcia, Alonso and Pique to slot in at the back in front of Ter Stegen despite them starting against Inter over the midweek. Pedri, Busquets and Gavi should start as well with Lewandoski definitely assured to lead the lines. Dembele will be off from the go and Raphinha will join them in the attack.
Real Madrid: Lunin, Alaba, Militao, Mendy, Carvajal, Modric, Tchouameni, Kroos, Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr, Karim Benzema.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Eric Garcia, Sergi Roberto, Alonso, Pique, Pedri, Busquets, Gavi, Raphinha, Ousmane Dembele, Lewandoski.
Tips: This will be a close contest between the two biggest clubs in Spain and we expect a lot of goals from it. Our bookies are going with Madrid to score first in either half but Barcelona will produce replies. For the first time this season, we expect the Catalans to concede at least two goals in La Liga and Real Madrid will also not be able to keep a clean sheet. So it would end 4-2 in favour of Los Blancos. Real Madrid is being priced between 2.26 and 2.34 to win at home while Barcelona has between 3.00 and 3.155 to win away from home. A draw is going 3.54 and 3.68.