Sunday’s El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid is full of firsts.
The first competitive encounter between Spain’s biggest rivals of the season will also be the first El Clasico in last 11 years not to feature either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. For over a decade the world’s famous football match was their personal battlefield and the forthcoming clash at Camp Nou is just the taste of what’s to come when Spanish football is let without two global game icons.
Cristiano Ronaldo is currently at Juventus, all smiles and enjoying life – despite raping allegations – while his former club drowns in sorrow, whereas Lionel Messi – his nemesis – is out with injury and Sunday’s El Clasico will not be the same.
It’s much more than just these two superstars, however, so read on to find out who could possibly be given a chance to shine in their absence and to pick up other team news, betting suggestions and how to watch the game.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid – Bigger than Messi and Ronaldo?
The two biggest clubs in Spanish football have not been their usual selves this season. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid – one more than the other – have gone through a difficult period in the new season and find themselves ahead of the win imperative.
Barcelona kicked off the new season with four consecutive league wins – latching on a 2-1 Spanish Super Cup win over Sevilla and moving forward with a clean-cut 4-0 thumping of PSV at the beginning of the Champions League campaign. The things started to get a sour twist for Ernesto Valverde towards the end of October as the Catalans suffered a four-match winless La Liga streak which put their early La Liga title defence challenge in danger. And while everything has been running smoothly in Europe – with wins over Tottenham and Inter Milan last time out – Barcelona were forced to work hard to keep their head above the water. A resounding 4-2 victory over Sevilla last weekend was a perfect El Clasico introduction but Barcelona need to up their game significantly in order to record a win.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, just can’t seem to gain solid footing this season. The summer of change saw both Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo leave Santiago Bernabeu. Despite his efforts to conceal the cracks, Florentino Perez is feeling the heat and is well aware that his own decision to appoint Julen Lopetegui as the new manager might have been a mistake. Los Blancos are going through their worst start to a season in last 17 years and the forthcoming match at Camp Nou could be a defining one. Four defeats in last six games really make for a miserable run that’s put plenty of pressure both on the players and manager. Without Cristiano Ronaldo to fire up the atmosphere and an apparent leader both in the locker room and on the pitch, Real Madrid’s chances heading into the match are bleak.
Team News, Betting Options & Live Streaming
Lionel Messi, Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen complete the injury list for the hosts. Ernesto Valverde will have plenty of options to choose from upfield but the backline remains as fragile with only Lenglet and Pique in full availability in the heart of the defence. Arthur and Arturo Vidal will be competing for a place in the midfield alongside Busquets and Rakitic whereas Philippe Coutinho should be a direct replacement for Leo Messi. Following a fine performance against Inter Milan – during which he demonstrated impressive tactical astuteness – Rafinha should continue on the right ahead of Ousmane Dembele.
Real Madrid will worry about the fitness of Dani Carvajal whereas Marcelo is fully recovered and should be in contention from the off. What Julen Lopetegui will have to deal with is Luka Modric, however. The Croatian is coming off from a long and difficult summer which seems to be catching up on him. The midfield maestro has seemed increasingly fatigued over the past few weeks and Lopetegui could opt to keep him on the bench with Dani Ceballos given a chance to shine.
Before you go on and place some bets on the biggest game thus far in the season, do note that Barcelona are winless in their last 4 home El Clasico fixtures. It’s simple, current form plays a tiny role in determining the derby winner and it all comes down to momentary inspiration when these two sides play each other. One thing is certain, the Sunday El Clasico is hardly going to be a boring match so make sure to consider your betting options wisely.
As a hotly anticipated match and one with global audience, El Clasico is bound to generate plenty of attention worldwide. Should, by any chance, you are unable to follow it via television, bet365 is giving you an offer to watch it through a live stream. Just make sure you have a funded account with them or, even better, place a bet in the 24 hours prior to the big game.
- Game: Barcelona vs Real Madrid, Spain La Liga, Round 10
- Time: 28th October 2018, 16:15 CET
- Venue: Camp Nou
- Referee: Jose Sanchez (Spain)
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