The 2nd instalment of the El Clasico is back and it will see FC Barcelona travels to the Santiago Bernabeu to slug it out with Real Madrid in the league reverse fixture on coming Sunday.
The 1st fixture between these 2 at Camp Nou ended in a drab draw, a goalless draw that saw the 2 sides' combine shots on target to be awfully just 6 shots. It was the 1st in 50 El Clasicos not to have produced a single goal, a run dated back to 18 years ago, November 2002.
Home side(Real Madrid):
Having began the current league campaign on a shaky note that includes 3 consecutive draws against Valencia(1-1), Barcelona(0-0) & Athletic Bilbao(0-0) in December, the Los Blanco seems to have turn the corner with 5 consecutive league victories that includes a hard-fought 1 nil win over Atletico Madrid about 4 weeks ago and even leapfrogged Barcelona at the top of the league table. However, a recent wobble, a 2-2 draw at home to Celta Vigo and a surprise 0-1 loss at Levante soon raises eyebrows.
And rubbing salt to Real's injury is the news that their Belgian superstar Eden Hazard who recently returned from a lengthy injury has gone back to the treatment table for probably the rest of the season after fracturing his right fibula in the defeat to Levante. The good news is, Real has a genius in the French tactician Zinedine Zidane and it won't be much of a headache for him finding a way around Hazard's absence.
Barcelona, on the other hand, began the league with decent results and were on top of the league table under former boss Ernesto Valverde, however, the Blaugrana weren't particularly coasting under the Spaniard, and a run of just 1 win in 5 matches across all competitions that include 2-3 Spanish Supercopa loss to Atletico Madrid brought about the end of Valverde's reign.
In came new manager Quique Setien, the man said to have the Midas touch of Barca legend Johan Cruyff. Setien had overseen 9 matches across all competitions since taking over from Valverde and had admirably won 7 and lost 2, however, the losses include the 0-1 devastating exit from Copa del Rey at the hands of Bilbao. The defeat was soon compounded with the news of turmoil within Barca hierarchies and some seniors players.
Barca has yet to rediscover the tiki-taka football promised by Setien, however, they have a certain Lionel Messi. The ingenious forward last weekend showed what he's capable of with 4 goals in his team's 5 nil win over Eibar, putting aside all the confusions surrounding the team in recent weeks.
Head 2 Head.
The last 5 matches between these 2 across all competitions give the edge to Barcelona as shown below, however, as shown often time, form and H2H results don't necessarily count in rivalry matches.
Missing key players;
Host: Eden Hazard; Real might not particularly feel the absence of the Belgian as he hasn't really gotten into his dazzling groove since his initial injury return. Another notable absentee for the Los Blancos will be Rodrygo, the Brazilian picked up his marching order in a reserve match on Sunday. Others include Asensio who is still far from recovery.
Visitor: Barca will not only misses Ousmane Dembele who is out of the season with another lengthy injury lay off but also Luiz Suarez, the Uruguayan is still out on the treatment table.
With both teams not firing in all cylinder as expected, one could be forgiven for leaning towards another drab draw. However, as shown in the odds above, the bookies seem to favour a Real victory.
Real 0-0 Barca,
With Real struggling in front of opposition teams in recent matches, particularly Karim Benzema on a barren scoring run, i think Real will rather approach the match with caution. Barca, on the other hand, played poorly in midweek UCL and might labour again at the Bernabeu.