The return legs of the Champions League just confirmed the inevitable (based on last week’s results); FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will meet in the semi-finals of Europe’s most prestigious club competition. In practices, this means that these two sides will contest no less than four Clasico’s within the space of three weeks.
The “El Clásico” is a term for the match-up between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
After being humiliated 5-0 in the Camp Nou by the reigning Spanish Champions, tomorrow’s encounter is perhaps the last chance for Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid to keep their title-hopes alive.
Heading into match-day 32 of the Primera Division, Real Madrid trail the Catalan club by eight points. A look at Real Madrid’s remaining fixtures indicates that Saturday’s game is a must-win for the Merengues, having still to play the likes of Valencia CF, Sevilla FC and Villarreal CF.
However, the Blaugrana could afford to lose in the Santiago Bernabeu without the defeat having an immediate impact on their domestic campaign, due to their “easier” schedule.
Nevertheless, FC Barcelona are one of Europe’s in-form sides and only lost twice, in all competitions. Although the Blaugrana have suffered numerous injury set-backs, Carles Puyol hasn’t played a competitive game since January while Eric Abidal and Bojan Krkic will definitely miss out for the rest of the season; the team has been fairly consistent.
Still, the current form of marquee signing David Villa is alarmingly dreadful. The former Valencia hitman has failed to find the net in nine games, whereas Pedro is just coming back from an injury.
Lionel Messi, however, seems to have rediscovered his scoring boots after enduring a (mini) drought himself. FC Barcelona’s no. 10 has scored three goals in his last two games, bringing his 48th in all competitions, equaling Real Zaragoza’s Telmo Zarra’ record from the 1950/51 campagin.
On the other hand, Messi’s challenger for the recognition as the world’s best player, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, has scored 40 goals himself.
But in teams packed with attacking talent, it is more than likely that the defense will be the all-important factor. While it can be argued that FC Barcelona have the superior midfield, and Real Madrid’s attack is equal to that of Barca’s, there remain some question marks over the Blaugrana’s defense.
The absence of Carles Puyol & Eric Abidal, have forced Pep Guardiola’s hand to employ Sergio Busquets as a makeshift center back. Since Javier Mascherano is suspended for tomorrow’s game one can expect to see Seydou Keita back in contention with the aforementioned Busquets shifted to defense.
Saturday’s El Clasico could go either way, if FC Barcelona can impose their game upon Real Madrid a narrow victory is in the cards for Pep’s squad. But the lack of a genuine center back to pair with Gerard Pique could prove costly, especially if Madrid’s attacking quartet of Ronaldo, Di Maria, Özil & Adebayor/Benzema is given too much room.
Note* Carles Puyol has been included in the squad for the game against Real Madrid!
Real Madrid 1 – 2 FC Barcelona
Just in case you have missed the Barca Blaugranes El Clasico Preview, click here.
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