FC Barcelona (9th, 7pts) vs Real Madrid (3rd, 10pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Friday
Competition/Round: 2020-21 La Liga, Matchday 7
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Marc-André ter Stegen, Samuel Umtiti, Matheus Fernandes (out)
Real Madrid Outs & Doubts: Eden Hazard, Daniel Carvajal, Martin Odegaard, Álvaro Odriozola, Mariano (out)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 24, 2020, 4pm CET (Barcelona), 3pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 10am ET, 7am PT (USA), 7.30pm IST (India)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Juan Martínez Munuera
VAR: José María Sánchez Martínez
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Not Available (India), others
Following a dominant victory to start their European season in midweek, Barcelona return to action in La Liga for the first El Clásico of 2020-21 against Real Madrid at the Greatest Stadium on Earth.
This is a somewhat strange Clásico: there will be no fans because of the pandemic, and it’ll be fascinating to see what the impact of no crowds at Camp Nou will have on this game. Real Madrid come into this one on the back of two bad losses at home, and they have some key players missing due to injury including Eden Hazard.
But Sergio Ramos is back, which is a boost to the Blancos’ defense against a Barça team that just scored five in the Champions League. The Blaugrana looked excellent against Ferencváros, and Ronald Koeman will definitely love to win his first El Clásico as manager.
Koeman has a couple of big lineup decisions to make: Jordi Alba is back from injury, but with Sergiño Dest filling in very nicely at left-back it may be a good idea to keep the American on the team. Up front, Antoine Griezmann is expected to start but has not played well at all this season, and with guys like Pedri and Ousmane Dembélé in such great form it’ll be very interesting to see if Koeman pulls the trigger on keeping one of the big names on the bench for such a giant match.
Despite Madrid’s form this will not be easy at all for Barça, who have to be at their best to win. Koeman’s lineup decisions will go a long way in helping the team reach their best, but ultimately it’s about the 11 players on the pitch rising up to the challenge and owning the moment.
It’s El Clásico time. Let’s dance.
Barcelona (4-2-3-1): Neto; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, De Jong; Griezmann, Coutinho, Fati; Messi
Real Madrid (4-3-1-2): Courtois; Nacho, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Modric; Benzema, Vinicius
I am always super nervous and have no idea what to expect from a Clásico, so I’ll go safe with the pick: 2-2 draw.