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El Clasico: Assessing Barcelona’s chances against Real Madrid

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The Blaugranes host Los Blancos on Wednesday

FBL-LIGA-ESP-REAL MADRID-BARCELONA Photo credit should read OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images

Despite their 2-2 stalemate at Real Sociedad last weekend, Barcelona are in fine form going into their clash with fierce rivals Real Madrid. The champions are undefeated in their last nine outings, including victories over Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, and Atletico Madrid.

While Barca have indeed been impressive as of late, they are not yet in the clear, with Real Madrid tied on points with them at the top of the league standings. This means that on top of the typical hype surrounding El Clasico, the title is also potentially at stake.

Let’s assess how Real Madrid have been performing as of late, comparing them to Barca in an effort to measure our chances going into the clash.

Real Madrid’s Form

Valencia v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Zinedine Zidane’s side has been in fine form in La Liga, with four wins and one draw in their last five matches. These results include a 4-0 thumping of Eibar, a convincing 3-1 win over Real Sociedad, wins against Alaves and Espanyol and a last-minute draw against Valencia. In those games, Los Blancos have been in peak attacking form, scoring an impressive 12 goals (averaging 2.4 goals per game).

This goalscoring prowess has been evident throughout the season, with Real Madrid bagging 33 goals in their 16 La Liga games this season.

Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

On the defensive front, Real Madrid have shown particular strength. While Los Blancos only kept a single clean sheet in their last five games, they have only conceded 12 goals throughout their La Liga campaign- the second-best defensive record in the league.

While their performances have been respectable so far this season, it is important to consider the caliber of opponents that they have obtained their best results against. Against weaker sides, Real Madrid have been merciless in the pursuit of three points, with resounding victories such as a 5-0 thumping of Leganes.

It is against stronger opponents, however, where Real Madrid have faced difficulty. In their recent game with Valencia, Los Blancos managed to rescue a draw at the death through a Karim Benzema goal. The Galacticos’ game against Atletico ended in a goalless draw, while their Champions League home match against PSG remained deadlocked at 2-2. Their away fixture against the French giants ended in a humiliating 3-0 defeat. It was only against Sevilla that Real Madrid managed a 1-0 triumph.

Barcelona’s Form

FC Internazionale v FC Barcelona: Group F - UEFA Champions League Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

While a draw with Real Sociedad may have been frustrating for the Blaugranes’ faithful, Barca have nevertheless been in fine form as of late. Their last five La Liga games have ended in four wins and one draw, which included a hard-fought 1-0 away win at a resolute Atletico Madrid.

On the attacking front, Barca have scored a massive 14 goals- averaging at an impressive 2.8 goals per game. This streak is reflective of the Blaugranes’ attacking form for the entire season, as Barca have currently scored a total of 43 goals- the best attacking record in the league. While Los Blancos have been impressive up front, they have still been outperformed by Barca’s finest.

Barcelona V Mallorca Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

While Messi and Suarez continue to deliver time and again, rising talents such as Ansu Fati have shone in recent matches (the 17-year-old scored the winner against Inter in the Champions League). Although he endured a difficult start to his Barca career, Griezmann has also sparked to life, scoring twice in his last two games. Barca should have no issue finding the back of the net on match day.

Unfortunately it is in defense where Barca have under-performed, having conceded 20 goals in 16 league games. Barca have conceded six times in the last five games, meaning that they still haven’t quite shaken their inconsistency at the back that has been prevalent since the start of the season. Barca will need to remain wary of the likes of Benzema, who is currently tied with Lionel Messi as the league’s top scorer with 12 goals.

When looking at the caliber of the opponents who they have faced, Barca have significantly outperformed Real Madrid when facing top opposition. They defeated Atletico Madrid away from home, thumped Valencia 5-2, and defeated both Dortmund and Inter in their difficult Champions League group. It is clear that Barca cope better in the face of greater opposition.

The Verdict

Given their excellent attacking record, ability to take on top opposition, and home ground advantage, it is safe to say that the Blaugranes are the favorites going into this clash. They will, nevertheless, have to remain wary of Real Madrid’s goal-hungry forwards as they look to establish a three-point lead at the top of La Liga.