Few occasions in world soccer are harder to foretell than El Clasico.
Regardless of the wildly partisan environment cooked up by the respective crowds on the Santiago Bernabeu and Camp Nou, there’s usually little benefit for the house workforce – the away aspect has gained 5 of the final 9 Clasicos. And it’s as difficult to foretell the quantity of objectives as it’s the quantity of minutes earlier than the primary purple card is brandished. (Sometimes in Sergio Ramos’ course.)
The one factor you may actually financial institution upon is that it gained’t be a stalemate. There hasn’t been a goalless sport between Barcelona and Actual Madrid within the final 50 conferences, relationship again to November 2002. (However even that sport offered one of many biggest moments in Clasico folklore, when the Barcelona trustworthy welcomed turncoat ahead Luis Figo again to the Camp Nou with a pig’s head.)
This Saturday sees the 242nd aggressive Clasico and the 179th league assembly. Traditionally, the 2 sides are at useless warmth on this fixture with 95 wins apiece. However this even stability hides the reality:
Barcelona has had the sting over its arch enemy for a while.
The Blaugrana booked their sixth successive Copa Del Rey last look on Wednesday with a 3-0 semifinal second leg win on the Bernabeu. Regardless of being totally outplayed for the primary hour, the guests left Madrid with three objectives from 4 complete pictures. Luis Suarez – who has scored a powerful 11 objectives in 13 video games in opposition to Los Blancos – heightened the hosts’ ignominy with an audacious Panenka penalty.
Barcelona is now undefeated in its final 5 Clasico outings, relationship again to the 2017 Supercopa de España. Excluding that preseason trophy, Actual Madrid hasn’t gained at residence within the rivalry in almost 5 years. That 3-1 victory on the Bernabeu in October 2014, nevertheless, was cancelled out when Barca gained the corresponding league fixture and pipped Actual to the league title the subsequent spring by a mere two factors.
And Santiago Solari will want no reminder of the final league assembly between his aspect and Barcelona again in October, when the Catalans humiliated Actual Madrid in a 5-1 humiliation. That day, their talisman Lionel Messi wasn’t even within the lineup.
If the Madridistas lose this Saturday, they’ll sit 12 factors behind league leaders Barca with solely 12 video games to play. They are going to be combating to remain aggressive with metropolis neighbors Atletico Madrid, whereas being cautious to not eat the mud being left within the Barcelona’s wake.
Regardless of the sport happening in Madrid’s again yard, the bookmakers at the moment favor the guests. Not many groups go to the Bernabeu as favorites.
Much more worrying for Actual Madrid are the stats suggesting that the stability of energy has been tipping since Pep Guardiola took the reins at Barcelona in 2008. Since then, the Blaugrana have gained 3 times as many Clasicos (12) as Actual Madrid (4).
This development is indicative of Barcelona’s home dominance within the post-tiki-taka age. Barca’s gained 70 p.c of the Spanish titles previously decade, with Actual successful solely twice. Within the brief time period, nevertheless, it’s clear that Los Blancos are feeling the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo.
They’ve suffered shock losses in opposition to minnows akin to Girona, Leganes and Eibar this season – the type of video games the place Ronaldo has historically dragged them over the road.
In opposition to Barca on Wednesday, Madrid had 14 pictures on aim with out scoring. One would think about that the Portuguese celebrity wouldn’t have let so many alternatives go begging. Since Ronaldo upped sticks to Italy, Madrid has scored solely two Clasico objectives whereas conceding 9.
Within the fashionable period, Actual Madrid has constructed the foundations of its success from a Galáctico coverage. However now, there’s no “field workplace” Galáctico to fall again upon. Within the buildup to February’s conflict with Atleti, promotional tweets and TV spots highlighted the star participant from every workforce, with Sergio Ramos being designated for Actual Madrid. The Spaniard is undoubtedly a frontrunner for the workforce, however a membership that prides itself on attack-minded soccer now has the title of a defender up on the marquee.
It was Florentino Perez’s intention to construct the workforce round Gareth Bale on the level when Ronaldo left. However that merely hasn’t occurred. The Welshman scored his one hundredth aim for the membership in opposition to Atleti final month, however his harm file and perceived inconsistency have carried out little to bolster his popularity with the followers. There have been whistles from some sections as he made his substitute look on Wednesday night, and his reputation is outwardly no higher inside his personal workforce. He has discovered little Spanish, he’s reportedly referred to as “the golfer” for his desire for holes over objectives, and he eschews late-night workforce bonding meals as a result of his early bedtime.
At a time when Messi clearly evokes perception in his aspect, Madrid’s entrance line lacks that type of symbolic character.
After all, it’s not all doom and gloom for Actual. Wednesday’s Clasico within the Copa del Rey may need performed out very in another way if Vinicius Junior’s early penalty declare had not been waved away. Since his €45m summer time switch, the younger Brazilian has risen from the reserve aspect in a means that the overhyped Martin Ødegaard by no means might. Vinicius had six pictures on Wednesday, greater than your entire Barca workforce mixed. Behind him on the left flank, in the meantime, Reguilón has proven himself to be a extremely worthy successor to Marcelo. He combines defensive fortitude with loads of attacking menace down the channel.
And whereas Barcelona could also be successful the battle, Actual is successful the battle, having gained eight extra league titles and eight extra European Cups than its rival. It’s going to take a very long time if that stability is ever redressed.
Plus, it’s additionally value noting that Actual Madrid has additionally boasted its personal interval of Clasico domination. Within the early 2000s, in the course of the golden period of the Galácticos, Madrid went six of them undefeated. Barca can solely match that streak this weekend.
For now, the Blaugrana maintain the benefit. However the stability of energy on this notoriously unpredictable fixture can shortly change – and Los Blancos can deliver themselves in from the Clasico wilderness with an announcement win this weekend.
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