On October 16 at 7:45 IST, the Santiago Bernabeu will host the La Liga encounter between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The latest instalment of what is perhaps the greatest soccer rivalry in history will occur on Sunday when Real Madrid hosts Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu for El Clasico. The two Spanish juggernauts are facing off for the first time this season, and each appears to be travelling in the opposite direction. They do begin the day tied for first place in the La Liga standings with 22 points, however Barca are ahead on goal differential.
Real is still unbeaten this season, including in the Champions League, but Barca is in disarray going into this match and is staring elimination from the UCL in the face.
In the past week’s Matchday 3 against Inter Milan, Barca suffered a loss. The following Matchday 4 at home against the Italian team, Barca wasted a lead and settled for a 3-3 draw that seemed more like a defeat than anything else. They now trail Inter by three points with two games remaining. On Matchday 5 at the end of the month, if Inter wins against Viktoria Plzen, Barca will be eliminated from the UCL.
The most recent European results, in Xavi’s opinion, have been unfair to his squad and have put them in danger of another humiliating exit on the grandest stage. Nobody anticipated this with all of the offseason additions, particularly Robert Lewandowski.
After the game, Xavi told CBS Sports, “It’s hard to say something since we played pretty well in the first half. “In the end, I believe we deserved much more, but football is football. In the second half, we give up many goals. lots and lots.”
How to watch and odds
- Date: Sunday, Oct. 16 | Time: 10:15 a.m. ET
- Location: Santiago Bernabeu — Madrid
- TV: ESPN Deportes | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
- Odds: Real Madrid +123; Draw +260; Barcelona +210 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Inter scored three goals in that second 45-minute half that Barca conceded. Despite having 25 shots compared to Inter’s 11, Barca twice had to come from behind to save a point. The shortage of healthy central defenders is one of the problems that Barca are currently facing. Gerard Pique, who is no longer a competent defender, has had to start for them lately, which is clear from the fact that he gave Nico Barella the goal on Wednesday. Additionally, due to an injury, Marcos Alonso was starting at centre back. Alonso is a fullback or wing-back who is notorious for playing below-average defence, so it’s troublesome if you have to place him at centre back.
On the trainer’s table at the moment are these center backs:
- Ronald Araujo (adductors avulsion), out until at least after Christmas
- Jules Kounde (Achilles issues), out since Sept. 23 but potentially back this weekend
- Andreas Christensen (sprained ankle), out since Oct. 5 with his return unclear
Those are Barca’s three best center backs, so it’s not surprising to see this backline struggle. Xavi knows it is an issue, but he knows more is needed than just healthy bodies.
“We have to be more aggressive,” he said. “This is Champions League. We concede a lot, and then, OK, we draw, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough. I think it is really, really, really cruel to us.”
“In this kind of level, of course, it’s really dangerous. The result changed in five minutes. We had mentality, we draw, but it’s difficult to say something because it’s cruel … In Milan, also in Munich, because I think we deserved much more.
“We decreased the intensity, the high pressure was not the same … The circulation of the ball, everything was different. It’s a pity.”
Imagine what Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr. could achieve on Sunday if those mistakes aren’t fixed. Despite a recent hiccup, the Barca attack has largely been effective. Before this most recent match with Inter, they had been scoring less than one goal a game in their previous three. But on Wednesday, the defence suffered its worst defeat of the season. They’ll need to be more focused, physically fitter, more intense than they were at the Camp Nou if they want to avoid that in El Clasico.