|EL Clasico 2016|
Fixtures don’t come much bigger than this for Barcelona, as bitter rivals Real Madrid visit what should be a deafening Camp Nou on Saturday evening.
This has, and always will be, the biggest game in Spanish football.
It is a fixture that is watched from all corners of the world, regardless of league positions, and its sheer ferocity and entertainment value makes for riveting viewing.
Real Madrid are flying at the moment, undefeated in their last 25 matches (La Liga) and their 3-0 win over Athletico Madrid last time around showed a grittier side to their game.
Things haven’t got off to a great start for Luis Enrique and Barcelona, with the recent 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad indicative of their early-season unpredictability.
That said, the Catalans sit just six points behind their arch-rivals, admittedly having had a tough start, and a win would be enormous for them.
It may be a cliche, but form generally does go out of the window in games such as these, and it may well come down to a questionable refereeing decision, a moment of genius or a defensive howler.
Saturday's Clasico is crucial for Barca, who have fallen six points behind Real following a mediocre start to the season. And Enrique, predictably, has found himself facing plenty of criticism, especially after last weekend's draw at Real Sociedad which he admitted was the team's worst performance during his time in charge.
This could be an important moment for both teams in the battle for the league title; a victory for Barça would see them just three points behind the leaders, a win for Madrid would stretch their lead over the Blaugranes to nine points.
|MSN vs BBC|
TEAM NEWS AND BARCELONA POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
Barcelona boss Luis Enrique will want to pick his strongest side for the crunch clash with Madrid, but Andres Iniesta is likely to start on the bench after more than five weeks out with the knee injury he sustained in the 3-2 win at Valencia back on October 22. That means Andre Gomes should feature from the outset.
In defence, Samuel Umtiti also looks unlikely to start after making his comeback and looking a little rusty in the 1-1 draw at Hercules in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night. So Javier Mascherano seems set to be given the nod in central defence alongside Gerard Pique, with Jordi Alba at left-back if he has recovered from his knee and ankle problems. Otherwise, Lucas Digne will play.
The rest of the team is as expected, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal, Sergi Roberto at right-back, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic in midfield, and Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar in attack.
Zinedine Zidane is not without injury problems of his own. Gareth Bale is ruled out with an ankle injury and Toni Kroos and Álvaro Morata are also missing from the 19 man squad that was named by the Real Madrid coach on Friday.
Luis Enrique was obviously delighted by the news of the return of his captain during his pre-game press conference on Friday at the Ciutat Esportiva.
“The biggest news is that we’re getting [Andrés] Iniesta back, which has extra importance since he’s our captain. If there’s oneplayer who helps most with our style, it’s him,” revealed the Barça boss.The coach also admitted that form is not usually a factor in El Clásico: “In games like these, the standings have very little bearing on what happens out on the field.”
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane also appeared before the press on Friday and echoed his Barça counterpart’s sentiments:
“We have to show the same intensity we managed against Atlético. I'm not interested in Barcelona's performance against Real Sociedad. It certainly won't be the same as that game. We're playing against the current champions, and champions always turn up in the big games.” SOURCE:FC BARCELONA WEBSITE
Luis Enrique will be very aware of a possible backlash if his side were to loss against the high achieving Zidane's side.But though a challenging task, lucho's men must see the clash as the ideal opportunity to prove they mean business.
FCB need to draw inspiration from the 2-1 win at Sevilla and buid upon it Tweak it to be more convincing especially in the early stages.
Hopefully another supreme attacking display awaits us.
|BARCELONA POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP|
|BARCELONA POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP|
MATCH FACTS AND RECENT FORM
- Barcelona have lost just three of the last 13 Clásicos they have played at home in all competitions (W7 D3).
- Real Madrid have won five of their last nine games aganst Barça in all competitions (L4), including their last trip to Camp Nou (1-2).
- Should Barcelona win this game, it would be their 50th victory over Real Madrid at home in La Liga.
- Barcelona have scored in each of their last 21 games against Real Madrid, the best run of a side in the Clásico history (all competitions).
- Lionel Messi is the Clásico’s top scorer with 21 goals. Only Alfredo Di Stéfano (18) has scored more goals for Real Madrid than Cristiano Ronaldo (16) in Clásicos in all competitions.
- Neymar has been involved in five goals in his six Clásicos (three goals and two assists).
- Karim Benzema has scored five goals in his last seven La Liga clásicos, but just one of them came at Camp Nou.
- Luis Suárez is the only player to have scored a brace against Keylor Navas in La Liga since his arrival at Real Madrid.
- Gareth Bale has scored just one goal in his six Clásicos; the winning goal in the 2014 Copa del Rey final at the Mestalla.
- Zinedine Zidane could become the first Real Madrid manager to enjoy consecutive wins in Clásicos at Camp Nou since Miguel Muñoz in 1965 (four in all competitions).
- No Barcelona manager has ever lost two Clásicos in a row at home.
- Real Madrid have picked up eleven red cards in their last 26 Clásicos, with four of them coming for Sergio Ramos (all competitions). On the other hand, only five Barcelona players have been sent off in the last 26 Clásicos (all competitions).
- The only Clásico played at Ciudad Condal ended with a draw (5-5 in 1943 in the 14th matchday of that season). That was the game between the Blaugranas and Whites in Barcelona with the most goals scored in La Liga (10).
- Barcelona and Real Madrid have not drawn a game without scoring and conceding in La Liga since November 2002, the worst La Liga season for the Culés in the 21ST century (6th).
- 12 of the 21 goals (57.1%) scored by Messi against Real Madrid in allcompetitions have come at the Bernabéu. Messi has gone five games without scoring against Real Madrid in all competitions, his worst such run in El Clásico.
- 10 out of the 16 goals (62.5%) scored by CR7 against Barcelona have come at Camp Nou.
- The Portuguese striker has scored in four of his last five appearances against Barcelona, all of them in La Liga (four goals).
- The last seven Barcelona goals against Real Madrid at Camp Nou in all competitions have been scored by different players.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored ten of Real Madrid’s last 16 goals at Camp Nou in all competitions.
- Messi is the current player from both sides with the most assists in Clásicos (13 in all competitions).
- Benzema has assisted more goals than any other current Real Madrid player in all competition Clásicos (5), with three of them scored by Cristiano Ronaldo.
- Barcelona have drawn their last two league games and have never drawn three in a row with Luis Enrique in charge. 27 points after the opening 13 league games is the worst start for Barcelona since 2007/08 (also 27), when they finished the season in third place.
- Zidane have gone 25 games in a row without a defeat in La Liga (W22 D3),with his team scoring in all of them (an average of three goals per game).
- Messi has scored in four of his last five league games (5 goals). Cristiano Ronaldo has scored all five Real Madrid goals in his last two league games (one hat-trick and one brace).Credit: STATZONE FOURFOURTWO
- The blaugranes are unbeaten in their last six league matches, their last Liga reverse coming on 2 October away at Celta Vigo . Luis Enrique’s team have, however, just picked up two points from the last six following draws against Málaga and Real Sociedad.
- Real Madrid are undefeated in their last 25 games in the league and have won their last six in a row in La Liga. The last time they were denied victory was on the same day as Barça’s defeat at Celta with Basque side Eibar holding them to a 1-1 draw in the Bernabéu.