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La Liga Match Preview Round 26 (2022/23): Barcelona Vs Real Madrid

Written by Patrick Echatah

On Sunday night at Camp Nou, one of the biggest games on the football schedule will take place when La Liga leaders Barcelona welcome second-place Real Madrid for El Clasico.

Prior to this match, Real Madrid sits nine points behind Barcelona in the standings, so a victory for the home team would be a significant step toward earning their first La Liga championship since 2019.

STYLE OF PLAY

Xavi Hernandez will expectedly stick to his 4-3-3 formation but we will probably see a change in the lineup, as we saw in the game against Villarreal and with their game against Barcelona in the UCL coming up too. After experimenting with Marcos Alonso at centre-back, we might see the same defense lining up, but with Sergi Roberto getting the nod at right-back, alongside Kounde, Christensen and Alejandro Balde.

Real Madrid will line up in their usual 4-3-3 formation and we could see some changes in the the usual starting lineup as Ancelotti looks to give other players in the squad the chance to play and prove themselves while giving rest to some others, especially in the middle, but the pattern will remain the same.

FORM

Barcelona is now in a strong position at the top of the table, enjoying a nine-point lead over the defending champions going into the next El Clasico, despite having to watch Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid win the La Liga championship in the previous three seasons. Xavi’s team hasn’t missed a beat in the league thus far, winning 21 of their 25 games, drawing twice, and losing just twice. They have also only allowed eight goals in La Liga all season, which is an incredible feat at this point.

The second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, which will be played at Camp Nou at the beginning of April, has a 1-0 advantage in favor of the Catalan team after the first leg. Barcelona lost to Almeria in the league by a shocking score of 1-0 at the end of February, but they have since defeated Valencia and Athletic Bilbao by identical scores of 1-0. Barcelona also hold the best home record in the Spanish premera division this season.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, is still aiming for a treble this year after defeating Liverpool 1-0 at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night to secure their place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. In order to easily advance to the final eight, Carlo Ancelotti’s team defeated the finalists from the previous season 6-2 on aggregate. There, they will face Chelsea, another Premier League opponent.

The last time Los Blancos suffered a league defeat was against Mallorca at the beginning of February. Prior to last weekend’s 3-1 win over Espanyol at the Bernabeu, Los Blancos also drew with Atletico Madrid and Real Betis. With 28 points from 13 games this season, Real Madrid has performed well on the road. They have also dominated recent league meetings between the two teams, winning five of the last six matches in Spain’s top division. Real Madrid has not defeated Barcelona in La Liga at Camp Nou since October 2018, while Los Blancos won the reverse matchup at Bernabeu earlier this season by a score of 3-1.

HEAD TO HEAD

Real Madrid leads in head-to-head results in competitive matches with 101 wins to Barcelona’s 99 with 52 draws; Barcelona leads in exhibition matches with 20 victories to Madrid’s 4 with 10 draws and in total matches with 119 wins to Madrid’s 105 with 62 draws as of the match played on 2 March 2023. 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Robert Lewandowski will be leading the line for Barcelona, while talismanic midfielder, Sergio Busquets will be pulling the strings in the midfield.

French striker, Karim Benzema will be leading the line for the away side, while talismanic midfielder, Luka Modrić will be pulling the strings in the midfield with Brazilian winger, Vinicius out wide on the left side will be looking to add to his goal tally.

TEAM NEWS

Barcelona: Barcelona had hoped that Ousmane Dembele would be able to play in this game, but it has come too soon because the France international is currently sidelined for the hosts because of a hamstring problem. In addition, Ronald Araujo is available after sitting out the encounter against Athletic last weekend due to a ban, and he will start this game. Alejandro Balde is predicted to replace Jordi Alba at left back, and Gavi is predicted to go up to attack alongside Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski.

Real Madrid: David Alaba is the only Real Madrid player who is unable to play due to a hamstring injury in this El Clasico. Karim Benzema remains healthy despite being pulled off in the second leg of the Champions League last-16 due to injury, and Ferland Mendy was back on the bench against Liverpool after recuperating from a hamstring issue. Aurelien Tchouameni is set to return to the lineup. With the front three for the defending champions, which also includes Federico Valverde, Karim Benzema, and Vinicius Junior, Nacho should maintain his starting position at left-back.

Read Also – Vinicius Jr: A Victim Of Spanish FA Ineptitude And Incompetence

PREDICTED LINEUP

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde; F de Jong, Busquets, Kessie; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Gavi

Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho; Tchouameni, Camavinga, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius

VERDICT

Barcelona shouldn’t have an edge because they didn’t have a midweek European match, but Real Madrid impressed against Liverpool and will be motivated by their tournament success. Ancelotti’s team absolutely needs to win on Sunday night, but it is difficult to predict a Barcelona defeat at Camp Nou, and we anticipate a tense and nerve-wracking match to end in a draw of the points. Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid

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