Today’s Spanish Football clasico at the Camp Nou, between the tied football giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, promises to be a true classic. It will likely establish both who will have the inside track to winning La Liga and who is most ready to make a splash in this winter’s UEFA Champions League Round of Sixteen.
Both teams tied at the weekend, Barcelona in an entertaining, seesawing 2-2 at Real Sociedad on Saturday, and Real Madrid in a last gasp 1-1 at Valencia on Sunday. As usual, under French coach Zinadine Zidane, Madrid were unable to muster urgency when it mattered most and failed to win a game they had well in hand.
This Wednesday match will also showcase a classic coaching showdown pitting Zinadine Zidane’s accumulated acumen against that of a coach, Ernesto Valverde, who has humbled the Frenchman in the past. Similarly, it will bring into collision a rejuvenated Lionel Messi against a Real that has yet to decipher its starting line-up.
Barcelona tops the La Liga table, sitting at 35 points and with a +23-goal differential while Real Madrid, at 35/21 respectively, follows in second by a mere two goals. A draw does nothing for either side, but a win gives the victor a cushion in the domestic league race and a confidence bump ahead of their respective Champions League clashes—Barca against Napoli and Real against Man City.
But this classic match-up is no toss-up, Barca hold all the edges and angles, and home turf, a Real win would be an upset.
Upon returning to La Liga action, Barca host Alaves and Real host Athletic Bilbao with the former hugely expected to win at home and the latter most likely in a fight with their northern visitors. A Barca win in their classic match-up would likely spur them to an easy home win the following weekend and make the Madrid side suffer more against Bilbao. But a Real win will simply redouble Barca’s efforts, in a way Zidane has yet been unable to get Real to react, and Valverde’s side will likely keep the pressure on the Merengues until their next classic meeting.
The seventeenth week of La Liga play saw Alaves held 1-1 at home by Leganes on Friday. On Saturday, host Granada lost 1-2 to Levante, Athletic Bilbao drew 0-0 with visiting Eibar, and Atletico Madrid won 2-0 at home over Osasuna. On Sunday, Getafe made home turf count in a 2-0 win over Real Valladolid, Celta Vigo dropped points in a 2-2 home draw to Mallorca, Espanyol did the same to Real Betis, and Sevilla lost at home 1-2 to Villarreal.
At the weekend’s conclusion, Barcelona’s Messi at 12 goals and six assists led all scorers while Karim Benzema at 12 goals and six assists came in second, and Barca’s Luis Suarez at nine goals and three assists came in third.