Connect with us


Preview: Real Madrid vs Barcelona – stats, team news, line-ups

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu forms the backdrop for the 257th El Clasico as Real Madrid and Barcelona square off in Sunday’s La Liga title six-pointer. 

Among various sub-plots preceding the most heavily anticipated fixture in the La Liga calendar were the arch-rivals’ contrasting fortunes in midweek Champions League action.

The day after Paris Saint-Germain trounced 10-man Barcelona 4-1 in Catalunya to book their spot in the semi-finals, Madrid’s stoic defensive effort paid off at the Etihad Stadium.

Despite conceding a late equaliser after grabbing an early lead through Rodrygo, Carlo Ancelotti’s side halted Manchester City’s title defence in a gruelling penalty shoot-out. 

While Madrid’s quest for a treble after January’s Supercopa de Espana success resumes with vigour, this is Barcelona’s last chance to avoid a trophyless campaign in Xavi Hernandez’s swansong season. 

Eight points stand between table-topping Madrid and Xavi’s reigning champions ahead of the last seven games, highlighting Los Blaugranas’ necessity to conquer the capital.

Los Merengues’ victory would kill all the drama down the final stretch and deny the outgoing visiting manager a chance to balance his personal Real Madrid v Barcelona head-to-head record in charge.

None of the nine meetings between the two most successful Spanish clubs during Xavi’s reign have ended level, with Madrid’s memorable 4-1 win in January’s Super Cup tipping the scales in their favour (W5, L4).

As he gears up for his last El Clasico at the helm, a sense of trepidation streams through the visitors’ veins, knowing anything other than three points would probably see their nemesis waltz away with the crown.

Match Preview

Determined to settle the account with his adversaries after finishing last season empty-handed, Ancelotti took revenge on Pep Guardiola on Wednesday to set himself up nicely for this blockbuster.

Beating Barcelona on home turf is a familiar feeling for the Italian manager as he’s overseen three wins across the last three El Clasico editions staged at the Bernabeu (L1).

Another success is well on the cards after Los Blancos pieced together a four-game winning league run ‘to nil’ while averaging an eye-catching 2.75 goals per game.

However, Ancelotti knows better than to make room for complacency, even though his high-flying side come into proceedings as the only La Liga team yet to lose a home league match this season (W13, D2).

If there’s a squad capable of knocking Madrid off their perch, it’s Barcelona, irrespective of their disappointing record against their fiercest rivals this season.

Apart from the abovementioned Super Cup fiasco, the Catalan powerhouse squandered a half-time lead in October’s reverse fixture as Jude Bellingham’s brace inspired Los Blancos to a 2-1 win.

But Xavi’s side have recovered their defensive strength – the main ingredient behind their La Liga triumph last term – going six league games without conceding since a 2-1 win at Celta Vigo in mid-February.

In contrast to Barcelona’s defensive resurgence, their recent trips to the Bernabeu have seen them leak goals at a staggering rate, conceding at least two in three of their last four away clashes against Madrid.

Team News

Madrid avoided picking up fresh injury concerns during an exhausting encounter against Man City, even though Dani Carvajal had to be stretchered off in extra time.

With the right-back ready to start and Eder Militao back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, David Alaba and Thibaut Courtois are the only high-profile absentees in the home camp.

Alejandro Balde and Gavi are unavailable for selection for Barcelona, but Andreas Christensen and Sergi Roberto return to the fold after missing out on the PSG game.

The rest of Xavi’s star-studded squad is fit for this mouth-watering showdown.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona Potential Line-ups

Real Madrid (4-3-1-2): Andriy Lunin; Dani Carvajal, Antonio Rudiger, Aurelien Tchouameni, Ferland Mendy; Federico Valverde, Luka Modric, Tony Kroos; Jude Bellingham; Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior.

Barcelona (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, Ronald Araujo, Joao Cancelo; Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, Ilkay Gundogan; Lamine Yamal, Robert Lewandowski, Joao Felix.

More in Barcelona