El Clasico Preview

The two biggest teams in world football meet for this season’s first edition of El Clasico. In their most recent match, Real made their first UCL comeback of the season to draw 1-1 away to Shakhtar. While Barcelona are on the verge of dropping down to the Europa League for the second consecutive season after failing to beat Inter at the Spotify Camp Nou.

Los Blancos suffered a great deal against Shakhtar. It wasn’t a bad first-half performance from the Whites. The man-to-man press was good and they created numerous chances. However, Shakhtar made some tactical tweaks in the second half and Madrid failed to adjust. The hosts took the lead seconds after the second half started and Madrid responded seconds before the final whistle blew through a Rudiger header. 

The German showed great bravery to commit himself to that header as the keeper was coming out to collect the ball. He got a deep cut next to his eye that required stitches and now has to wear a mask when playing until it’s fully healed.

Barca and Inter put on the best UCL game of the season so far. It was a game that had constant twists and turns but it ended in a 3-3 draw. Many now deem Barcelona as a Europa League team for the second season running as they’ll need a miracle to go through to the Round of 16.

Who are the favorites?

Image Credit: Berengui/DeFodi Images

The cliche saying “form goes out the window in derbies” is always true in El Clasico. Even when Real Madrid were entering UCL semi-finals or finals and Barca were being knocked out, they still seemed to do well whenever they met their rivals.

However, if a favorite had to be chosen, it would be Real. They’ve secured qualification, still unbeaten for the season and most of their players are high on confidence. On the contrary, Barca are on the verge of dropping out of the competition again. Yes, they’re the league leaders, but a major objective for the club this season was to go deep into the UCL. Especially after the heavy investment made last summer.

Benzema vs Lewandowski

Image Credit: TF-Images

There have always been two star players that are the “face of El Clasico”. Not too long ago, Messi and Ronaldo were the stars of the show. Once they left the league, it turned into Courtois vs Ter Stegen and Vini vs Fati. Now, it’s undeniably Benzema vs Lewandowski. Two of Europe’s best strikers in the same league, playing for rival clubs, competing for the league and Pichichi. What better way to promote this fixture?

It’ll be an intriguing battle between two world-class strikers. Benzema will want to get back on the score sheet after his drought while Lewa is eager to extend his and his team’s lead at the top.

High Stakes, High Rewards

Whoever wins on Sunday will take the lead in the title race and carry that momentum with them throughout the season. To Madridistas’ disappointment, Courtois is still out, so Lunin is expected to start. For Barca, Araujo, Bellerin, and Christensen are still out but Kounde should be back in the starting lineup.

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