This has been a weird season for the two giants of European football: Barça are yet to lose a game since early August but have not been the most exciting team to watch, while Madrid have been wildly inconsistent, not performing well in most big games and often dropping points to teams that are currently fighting relegation in La Liga.
But as soon as the game starts at the Bernabéu, inconsistent seasons and unexciting performances go completely out the window and the only thing that matters is the 90 minutes. This game is full of superstars and the title race could be either almost decided with a Barça win or wide open with a Madrid victory.
This will be fun to watch, but also nerve-wracking. It’s the biggest club match in world football, and it’s one you just can’t miss.
MATCH INFO, TV & STREAMING
Competition/Round: La Liga Matchday 17
Date/Time: Saturday, December 23, 2017, 1pm CET/WAT (Spain & Nigeria), 12pm GMT (UK), 7am ET, 4am PT (USA), 5:30pm IST (India)
Venue: Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain
Television: beIN SPORTS (USA, Canada, Spain), Sky Sports Football (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 1 (India)
Online streaming: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA, Canada, Spain), Sky GO (UK), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)
(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)
The injuries are going away, which is great news, but Paco Alcácer, Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembélé are still not available for this one through physical problems. They should all be back around January, but they’ll miss the Clasico which is bad news since Umtiti and Alcácer have played amazing and Dembélé is the X-factor.
There’s nothing we can do about the injuries, so let’s celebrate the fact we have three really good midfielders for once: Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta and Paulinho (!!!!!!!!!!) are in great form at the moment, and Ivan Rakitic had a very encouraging performance against Deportivo La Coruña. Winning the midfield battle is a major factor in El Clasico matches, and Barça’s midfield is looking quite good for the first time in quite a while.
The defense has been strong all season, and although Nélson Semedo is not getting as many minutes as he should, Sergi Roberto has played well lately. Thomas Vermaelen has been a revelation and really deserves to start alongside Gerard Piqué, although Ernesto Valverde could go with the experience of Javier Mascherano. It would be unfair to Vermaelen, though, so let’s hope he gets to start. Who would have thought we’d be saying THAT in December 2017!
Up front, it’s Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi. They’re literally the only forwards available at the moment and Suárez has been playing better in recent games, so it makes sense for the Uruguayan to start alongside the greatest of all time. Messi LOVES to destroy Madrid at the Bernabéu, and he needs to do it again for us to get a win on Saturday.
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Vermaelen, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Messi, Suárez
Real Madrid (4-3-1-2)
Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco; Ronaldo, Benzema
I’ve rarely been confident on big games this season, but I think we’ll get the win in this one with a Messi Masterclass: 3-1 Barça, with a goal from Paulinho because that would be perfection.