Real Madrid CF (1st, 66pts) vs FC Barcelona (4th, 51pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Saturday
Competition/Round: 2021-22 La Liga, Matchday 29
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Sergiño Dest, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti, Alejandro Balde (out)
Real Madrid Outs & Doubts: Karim Benzema, Ferland Mendy (out)
Date/Time: Sunday, March 20, 2022, 9pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 8pm GMT (UK), 4pm ET, 1pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Monday)
Venue: Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain
Referee: Juan Martínez Munuera
VAR: Antonio Mateu Lahoz
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA, Canada), Premier Sports 1 (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
Following a great comeback victory over Galatasaray to clinch a place in the Europa League quarterfinals, Barcelona return to action for the final game before the international break, and it’s as big as it gets as the Catalan giants travel to Madrid to face league leaders Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu in the latest edition of El Clásico.
Madrid have been very consistent all season and will win the title barring a historic collapse, and they are scorching hot right now having won their last five in all competitions and scoring 14 goals in those matches. Carlo Ancelotti just knows how to get the best out of a Madrid team, and as hard as it is to accept it Los Blancos are a great team that might win the league and the Champions League this season. What? It’s true!
But Barça are just as hot themselves, without a loss in any competition in almost two months and riding a four-game winning streak in La Liga. Xavi Hernández is also getting the best out of his squad, and the Blaugrana look as strong as they have in a long time heading into a Clásico.
Another boost to Barça’s chances comes from the fact that Madrid will be without their talisman, captain and best player in Karim Benzema, who didn’t recover in time from an injury suffered last Monday and will be a huge miss in the home team’s entire attacking engine.
But the Catalans have their own issues coming into this one, mainly when it comes to their fitness levels: Barça played a brutal European game in Turkey this Thursday and most of the players who started against Galatasaray will once again be picked on Sunday. Have they recovered well enough to match Madrid’s intensity and compete at the highest possible level? It’s a legitimate question to ask, and one that could go a long way in deciding the outcome.
These two teams are playing excellent football and there’s a good chance we could see one of the best Clásicos in recent memory. Can Barça beat Madrid for the first time in three years? We’ll find out. This should be good.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Alves, Araujo, Piqué, Alba; F. De Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Dembélé, Aubameyang, Gavi
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militão, Alaba, Nacho; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Asensio, Vinicius
I wish I could predict a Barça victory at the Bernabéu, but I can’t get there yet: 2-2 draw, great game.