All the eyes of the world of soccer will set their sights on Spain, specifically at Camp Nou where Barcelona will host Real Madrid in a new version of El Clásico, arguably one of the biggest derbies in the world.
The two sides arrive to this game with different expectations and momentum. Real Madrid are coming off a win in the Champions League against Juventus, but they are a few points behind the leaders in La Liga. Barcelona were only able to draw against AC Milan in the European competition but remain at the top of the league standings where they haven’t lost yet.
Clearly a derby is always special, and sometimes it doesn’t matter the way each team arrives to the fixture as there are several components that make this game the most important one of the season. Both teams are arguably between the top five teams in the world, and most people wonder who has the edge in a match that seems to be very even.
Barcelona play at home, and that’s always an advantage. They haven’t lost on their home soil in quite a while, and the team seems to be getting better and better under the management of Gerardo Martino. They have a solid vertebral column where Xavi, Andrés Iniesta and Lionel Messi look at their best and some nice complementary pieces in elements like Alexis Sánchez and Neymar that can decide a whole game with only one play.
Real Madrid also have some things they can take advantage of. Despite the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo has always been criticized for disappearing in big matches, he’s no stranger in scoring against Barcelona. They also have an advantage off the pitch as their manager Carlo Ancelotti has an impressive resume, and he’s used to participating in these kinds of big matches where he has been successful with Milan and PSG, just to name a few teams.
Ancelotti clashed against Barcelona last season managing the Ligue 1 side and was only minutes away from eliminating Los Culés on their own turf, so he knows a thing or two about confronting them. Now he has a better team and more talent to choose from to prepare for the game, so it could end up being an epic match.
Barcelona remain unbeaten and lead the league, and it’s likely they won’t be looking to lose the first place against their classic rivals. Look for them to start attacking early on as they will try to put a heavy pressure against a Real Madrid defense that suffers a lot if attacked constantly.
So many things can be said about this game, but all of the strategies and the probable scenarios will be forgotten after the initial whistle. Barcelona have a small edge in my eyes, but this game seems to have all the ingredients to be another epic chapter in this rivalry.