Real, Barca renew Greatest Club Rivalry – ‘El Clasico’

Real Madrid and Barcelona will renew the world’s greatest club football rivalry when they meet in a La Liga match at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, 2 March 2019, kick-off at 7:45pm on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4.

‘El Clasico’, as the rivalry is known, has provided some absolute classic matches down the years and DStv and GOtv viewers should be treated to another feast of football between ‘Los Blancos’ and the ‘Blaugrana’.

The 178th La Liga match between Real and Barca is set to be a key factor in the title race this season: a win for Real will bring them back into the battle for Spain’s top honour, while Barca will feel that a victory at the Bernabeu will remove one of their last major hurdles on the path to glory.

Both teams enjoyed victories in the previous round of La Liga: Real claimed a controversial 2-1 away win away at Leganes (thanks to two penalties, one apiece for Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale), while Lionel Messi was in ominous form for Barca as they won 4-2 away to Sevilla. The Argentine master netted a hat-trick at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to move further clear at the top of the Spanish top-flight scoring charts.

The teams have clashed in 177 previous La Liga games and there’s little to choose between them: Real have 72 wins compared to 71 for Barcelona, while 34 encounters have ended in draws. Their last La Liga clash was at the Camp Nou in December last year, with Barcelona racking up a 5-1 victory thanks to a hat-trick by Luis Suarez and goals from Philippe Coutinho and Arturo Vidal.

The teams will also be more than familiar with each other given that they played two legs of a Copa del Rey tie in the month of February, meaning Real and Barca will have faced each other three times in the space of just under a month.

Real Madrid key players

Luka Modric – The reigning World Player of the Year is the man who makes Real Madrid tick in midfield, using his passing and movement to keep the team constantly on the boil. He’ll have his work cut out against Barcelona’s midfield on Saturday night.

Vinicius Junior – Regarded very much as a young Cristiano Ronaldo in the making, Brazilian attacker Vinicius is already a favourite of the ‘Los Blancos’ fans. He would make himself even more popular with the Bernabeu faithful if he can inspire a victory over Real’s hated rivals from Catalonia.

Barcelona key players

Lionel Messi – The Argentine master scored his 50th career hat-trick last weekend and will come into ‘El Clasico’ in great form. He has haunted Real many times over the past decade or so and will look to inspire Barcelona to a potentially decisive La Liga win.

Gerard Pique – Barcelona aren’t just about free-flowing football, they also have one of the better defensive records in La Liga this season. To that end, centre-back Gerard Pique will be a key figure as they look to keep a clean sheet at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid v Barcelona – Head-to-head, La Liga

Matches played 177

Madrid wins 72

Barcelona wins 71

Draws 34

 

Last five La Liga meetings

28 October 2018 – Barcelona 5-1 Real Madrid

6 May 2018 – Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid

23 December 2017 – Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona

23 April 2017 – Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona

3 December 2016 – Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid

 

Last five results (La Liga only, most recent first)

Real Madrid – WLWWW

Barcelona – WWDDW

FIVE PLAYERS WHO COULD DECIDE EL CLASICO

Lionel Messi

We couldn’t start anywhere else. The Argentine is this fixture’s all-time top scorer, with 26 goals to his name. He’s come up big time and time again and while Barcelona were able to comfortably win the first El Clasico of the season 5-1 back in October, Barça’s number 10 has a habit of being the difference maker at the Santiago Bernabeu, where he’s netted 15 of his 26 El Clasico goals.

Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema has emerged as Real Madrid’s main goal threat this season and has proven over the years that he is capable of netting in this rivalry. He already has nine El Clasico goals to his name and is having one of his best-ever seasons in front of goal, so Barcelona’s centre-back pairing will need to keep a close eye on him.

Marc-André ter Stegen

The Barcelona goalkeeper has been in excellent form this season and will have to be once again as he faces up to a determined Real Madrid attack, one which will be spurred on by the home crowd. The German has already made the difference in a number of LaLiga Santander fixtures this season and is second only to Atleti’s Jan Oblak in clean sheets (10). If Barça can come away with a win he’ll have a lot to do with it.

Casemiro

As Real Madrid’s main defensive midfielder, Casemiro is a busy man during El Clásico. The Brazilian is tasked with winning back the ball, with effectively breaking up counter attacks and with dealing with Lionel Messi. If he can provide extra protection to his back line, then Los Blancos will have an excellent chance. The 27-year-old also has the potential for a goal in his boots, with four to his name already this season.

Sergi Roberto

There’s something about Sergi Roberto and big games. The man who scored the winner in the comeback triumph over PSG in 2017 rises to the occasion and there is no bigger occasion than El Clásico away from home. His forward burst through the middle led to Barça’s last-gasp winner in this fixture two seasons ago, while he also had an assist in the 3-0 win in the capital last campaign. In fact, the youth graduate has five assists against Real Madrid in his career, more than against any other club. Talk about a player made for the big stage.

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