The match between Barcelona and Real Madrid is going to be an interesting one: this will be the first Clasico without great rivals Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo since 2007, and with Lopetegui’s job on the line, we will take a look at key factors to know, ahead of the encounter.
The first key point to look out for is Real Madrid’s form in recent times: Los Blancos were on a run of five games without victory, their poorest start to a season. They’ve scored only once, setting a poor club record of going over 8 hours without scoring a goal, then they got back to winning ways with a win in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night in a lackluster performance, where they struggled to defeat Victoria Plzen at the Bernabeu.
Now, the Whites will be traveling to the Camp Nou where they have not been beaten in recent times. When Zinedine Zidane was manager at Madrid, they never lost a single game away to Barcelona. Madrid are under pressure to win, but their poor run will be an advantage for Barcelona
No Ronaldo, No Messi. It is no news that Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in this Clasico, following his move to Juventus; but Barcelona were hard done by the injury to their captain in the victory over Sevilla. Messi landed poorly on his right arm, and was lucky not to have a broken arm. The little magician is set to be out for three weeks, meaning he will miss the Sunday clash.
This will be the first Clasico that both Messi and Ronaldo will not be playing since 2007. The Juventus star had not joined Madrid, but Messi was in Barca already, after scoring a hat-trick the previous season. The team tend to struggle a lot if the Argentine does not start for them, it will be interesting to see how the table toppers will set up for a Clasico game without their record goal scorer.
The two managers. Ernesto Velverde has completely changed Barcelona from a tiki-taka team, to a counter attacking team. Their possession play has reduced. But how will he replace Messi? He could go with Rafinha, like he did in the Champions League, or go with Messi’s replacement at the weekend, Ousmane Dembele, who cost over a hundred million. He also has the option of playing young striker, Munir.
For Julen Lopetegui, his decision making and how he sets up his team has been his undoing, especially his love for the Spanish boys. He has favoured the Spaniards more, especially Ceballos and it looks as if the senior players in the team are already complaining. Toni Kroos recently said he was not Casemiro. He need to find a way to keep the team happy and balanced. Though, the capital club are playing decent football, but their results speaks otherwise.
Form of both teams coming into the Clasico. Barcelona defeated Sevilla 4-2 on the same stadium, ending their run of four matches without a win in La Liga, also got two goals against Inter in the Champions League.
Unlike Madrid, who have endured their poorest start, and also suffering their worst run in front of goal in the club’s history. They have played five La Liga matches without a goal, losing to Levante last weekend. They got back to winning ways in midweek, but the performance was not convincing.
What this match will mean to both teams. A win for the home side, will take them 7 points clear of their greatest rivals, on week 10. For the Whites, a win will reduce the point deficit to one. That way, they will have a great chance of catching up, if they are to win the trophy. Losing the match may also cost manager, Julen Lopetegui his job, as it was rumored that the former Spain coach has been given a three-match ultimatum
The match will be played on Sunday 28th October, 2018, at the Camp Nou stadium. 4pm Nigerian time.
By Boluwatito Omoniyi