Real Madrid and Barcelona’s paths will cross for the 249th time on Sunday. Both teams are in excellent form ahead of El Clasico, having won five of their last six La Liga fixtures. With both teams desperate to snatch victory against their arch-rivals, who will have the last laugh at Santiago Bernabeu?
Real Madrid are edging closing towards their 35th Spanish premiership glory. With second-placed Sevilla continuously dropping points in recent weeks, Madrid have made substantial headway towards the La Liga crown and achieved a comfortable 10-point lead.
They will also be teeming with confidence following their remarkable 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain at Bernabeu, which saw them overcome a first-leg deficit to set up a Champions League quarterfinals tie with reigning European champions, Chelsea.
On top of that, Madrid have been excellent against their Catalonian rivals lately. They are currently on a five-match winning streak against Barcelona, and their last defeat to Barcelona at home dates back to March 2019, when an Ivan Rakitic goal drew the difference between the two sides.
Real Madrid are yet to lose a La Liga home match this season. Out of their 14 home games, they won 10 and shared the spoils on four occasions. Since 2020/21, only Inter Milan can match their record of suffering only six defeats, the lowest across major European leagues.
Los Blancos might have to make do without their talismanic striker Karim Benzema. The France international will undergo a late fitness test to ensure he has fully recovered from his calf issue. Rodrygo took a heavy hit in the Mallorca game, but he will be fit to play. Ferland Mendy, who sustained a muscular injury, will not make it. Luka Modric will return to the fold after being rested against Mallorca.
A few months back, Barcelona seemed to be a club in shambles and dropping out of European qualification spots appeared to be a viable possibility. But, Xavi Hernandez has managed to get La Blaugrana back on track.
Like their Sunday hosts, Barcelona also enter the fray with four wins on the run. In their last La Liga match, they cruised to a comfortable 4-0 victory against Osasuna, stretching their unbeaten streak in the league that has been going on since December.
Barcelona have shown strong indications of improvement under Xavi, but a Clasico victory, away from home, would be his best triumph since arriving as head coach. The current Barcelona side is of a different gravy than the one that lost in the reverse fixture at Camp Nou. So, Barca can hope to break their hoodoo against Madrid.
The fact remains that Barcelona have endured a frustrating campaign, but lifting the Europa League trophy and finishing in second place in La Liga would be considered a success ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer transfer window for the club. The upcoming meetings with Real Madrid and Sevilla are crucial for them to climb up the standings.
Sergino Dest went off injured against Galasataray, so the veteran Davi Alves will return to deputise. Ansu Fati, Samuel Umtiti, Alejandro Balde, and Sergi Roberto remain out of contention. Xavi might replace Adama Traore with Ousmane Dembele in the starting XI to form a front three of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, Dembele, and Ferran Torres.
In terms of form and goal-scoring prowess, it isn’t easy to separate these sides at the moment. Barcelona have improved over the last few months, but we don’t think they have what it takes yet to come out on top of a well-drilled Madrid side. That said, we believe they have enough quality to force the hosts into conceding a point. A draw is our prediction for Sunday’s El Clasico.
Draw @ 3.8.