El Clasico preview
It’s the latest and final El Clasico of the 2022-23 season, and arguably the most important, as Real Madrid visit Barcelona in a bid to win which might be their only trophy of the season. Madrid may be into the quarter-finals of the Champions League but, despite defeating Barcelona back at the Bernabeu, they have lost three Clasico contests since in the Supercopa de Espana final, a return league fixture at Camp Nou and Copa del Rey semi-final first leg.
Barcelona have had to watch Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid win the La Liga title in the last three seasons, but the Catalan outfit are currently in a commanding position at the top of the table, boasting a twelve-point advantage over the reigning champions. But all that will mean nothing if the Blaugrana throw their first-leg lead away and lose to Los Blancos here at Camp Nou.
Real Madrid know that this competition might be their only bet to win silverware this season, with the Champions League looking seemingly difficult after a stern route to the finals.
Xavi’s side have hardly missed a step in the league this season, winning 21 of their 25 matches, drawing twice and suffering two defeats, while they have only conceded eight La Liga goals all campaign, which is a stunning record at this stage of proceedings.
Barcelona were knocked out of the Europa League by Manchester United in the playoff stage last month, but they have already lifted the Spanish Super Cup this season and are chasing two more trophies, including the Copa del Rey, where Real Madrid are also standing in their way of success.
Eden Hazard makes his 1st appearance in La Liga after 6 months and 20 days👀#Hazard #RealMadrid pic.twitter.com/wmnxgDt3Kc
— FootTheBall FC (@FootTheBallFC) April 2, 2023
Real Madrid, meanwhile, are still on for a treble this season, booking their spot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday night courtesy of a 1-0 win over Liverpool at Bernabeu. Carlo Ancelotti‘s side beat last season’s finalists 6-2 on aggregate to comfortably progress to the final eight, where they will meet more Premier League opposition in the shape of Chelsea. Real Madrid are certainly underdogs in La Liga at this stage of the season, while they have work to do in their Copa del Rey semi-final return leg as well.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid – Team news
Barcelona had initially been hopeful of having Ousmane Dembele available for this match, but it has come too soon, with the France international still out for the hosts due to a hamstring issue. Pedri had been expected to return from a hamstring problem of his own, with the midfielder proving his fitness last week after sitting out the team’s last seven matches in all competitions, but he suffered discomfort in training and has therefore been left out.
Barcelona Predicted XI: Ter Stegen; Araujo, Kounde, Christensen, Balde; Sergi Roberto, Gavi, Busquets, De Jong; Raphinha, Lewandowski.
Real Madrid meanwhile have no major injury concerns, which will make Ancelotti hopeful of a better result this time out. Ferland Mendy is doubtful for this clash and will be assessed right before the match.
Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho; Modric, Camavinga, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid – Key players
Barcelona – Robert Lewandowski
Barcelona’s big summer signing has gone cold. That might sound strange to say about a player who has scored 27 goals in all competitions this season but he has only scored 4 in 9 in LaLiga since football returned after the World Cup and he only managed one in the Europa League loss to Manchester United — a penalty.
But these are the games Barcelona bought Lewandowski for and will need him to shine in one of them soon.
Real Madrid – Eduardo Camavinga
When Aurélien Tchouaméni signed from Monaco last summer after Kylian Mbappé did a u-turn and decided to stay at PSG, Eduardo Camavinga was said to be the man to lose out.
The 20-year-old was seen as more of a work in progress for Los Blancos than Tchouaméni. Since the return of the World Cup, Camavinga has carved out a role for himself in Ancelotti’s plans and might just be the most important player in the squad in terms of versatility.
El Clasico prediction
Barcelona have a genuine reason to believe this is their year to reclaim the La Liga crown off Madrid and a win here will take them a step closer to the domestic double.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side are still in the running for a treble. La Liga is a tall order and a victory on Sunday in Copa del Rey is imperative to keep the hopes of a treble alive. Los Blancos really need to win in midweek, but it is tough to back Barcelona to lose at Camp Nou, and fans are ultimately expecting a tight and nervy affair to finish the Catalans way. FootTheBall says Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid.