The stage is all set for the very first Clasico of the season and as always there are reasons a plenty for this weekend’s clash to be an electric one. Real Madrid welcome Barcelona to their home stadium, the magnificent Santiago Bernabeu. No doubt this fixture has been always awaited since more than the past half decade as an occasion where the two modern greats in Messi and Ronaldo lock horns with each other but this time around there is more than just an individual rivalry that fuels this contest.
Probable return of His highness:
One of the reasons that makes this weekend’s Clasico an awaited affair is the fact that Leo Messi is set to return to the field again after being out for two months owing to the knee injury he picked in the game against Las Palmas on the 26th of September. Ever since Messi’s absence, the Blaugranes have struggled to pull out positive results in Spain as well as in Europe. Though it has not been made official, it has been highly tipped that the Argentine maestro will be all set to play in the all-important game of the season. The question remains whether he will be in the starting line-up or amongst the substitutes to be brought later on.
Over the media it has been dramatically hyped since the past month that Leo will return to soccer and he has chosen the El Clasico for the same purpose. The doctors concerned with Leo’s treatment have indicated their reluctance to let Messi hit the field in an aggressive match but the reporters at AS stated that Leo is fit and he had been training in the same rhythm as that of his teammates in a session on Thursday.
First El Clasico 2015-16 Season Kick off Time
Kicks off at 17:15 GMT at Santiago Bernabeu
The Battle for the top:
Real Madrid and Barcelona have long shared a duopoly in the Spanish league by always being the only two contenders to fight for the top spot. And thus every El Clasico encounter is a decisive battle as a win or a defeat for either side can cost them the entire soccer season. This weekend’s Clasico is no exception. Barcelona currently sit on top of the Liga table with 27 points, followed by Real Madrid with 24. A win for the Capital side could see them knock Barca from the top spot as they would be level with them at 27 points but with a better goal difference. A win for the visiting side could see them move six points ahead of Real Madrid, this would somewhat seal the fate of the entire league season. A draw however would benefit the third placed Atletico Madrid side if they manage to win their away game against Real Betis. Atletico Madrid stand a chance overtake Real Madrid and reduce the gap for the top spot to just 2 points if the El Clasico ends with honors even.
The home side should be very much aware that if they are to provide any serious contention for the league this year, a win is what they should go for every minute and every second of this game.
With the presence of highly prolific attackers on both ends including the likes of Neymar, Suarez, Benzema, Bale and to top them off the goal-machine Ronaldo and the mesmerizing Messi the El Clasico has been a very entertaining affair. The last five meetings between these two sides have all witnessed a minimum of three goals in every game with a whopping average of 4 goals per game. This stat is enough to suggest that this match is not the one in which the teams go for a goalless draw. With attacking brilliance on both ends and soccer masterclass on show at every position, this weekend’s game yet again promises to be a goal fest in itself.
Ranked 1st and 2nd respectively, Barcelona duo of Neymar and Luis Suarez are the two names topping the La Liga top scorers chart so far this season. Neymar with 11 goals this season will be the one to watch as he has always relished scoring against big oppositions. Suarez with 9 goals will be a feared striker by the defenders of the Capital side as his goal in the last Clasico is not yet forgotten. The goal scored by Luis Suarez was the match winner and at the same time it propelled Barca an inch closer to the Liga title last season. Ironically, it is a co-incidence that the number of goals scored by Neymar and Suarez so far this season is the same as their shirt numbers 11 and 9 respectively. Only time will tell whether or not these two top scorers alter this co-incidence in their next game.
Real Madrid’s top scorer this season is none other than Cristiano Ronaldo with 8 goals and is 4th in the Liga rankings. The goal hungry Portuguese will leave no stone unturned in his bid to retain his title of last season’s Liga top scorer.
A little bit of talks and rumors from the Real Madrid locker room. It’s not a secret anymore that the arrival of the new manager Rafael Benitez has messed with the harmony of the Real Madrid side which was already a bit de-spirited after a trophy-less 2014-2015 season. What ignites the tension more is the speculation that Real Madrid are all set to sell either Ronaldo or Bale to Manchester United by the end of this season. How true this speculation is, is something which will be known as the season unfolds but what Real Madrid at the moment are lacking is team harmony off the pitch. Tensions have prevailed internally within the club but the only solution is to keep heads up and move on, and the best way to overcome all the negativities outside the pitch is to win a game of soccer on the pitch and no victory can taste more sweeter than the one against bitter rivals. Benitez will be hoping to head out his 11 men on the pitch with a hope that by the end of the 90 minutes, they will have done something good to instill back a winning mentality and a positive spirit into the Madrid locker room.
Let’s talk results. The home side comes to this match slightly de-spirited by the away defeat to Sevilla in a 3-2 thriller. Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez probably considers this match a highly important one if Madrid are to keep alive any realistic chances of winning the League this season. Visitors Barcelona struggled a few games after Messi’s absence but got back on the winning track soon. Barcelona visit the Bernabeu on the backing of a morale boosting 3-0 win against Villareal at home. But the name of the game is soccer, it is not a game of stats or predictions, it is what actually happens on the pitch and in the El Clasico this weekend, every inch of grass will be fought for by both the sides in the battle to preserve their prides.
- The last time El Clasico was played at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid thumped Barcelona to a 3-1 defeat.
- Lionel Messi has scored the most number of goals in the history of this fixture, 21. But it has been more than a year now since he last found the back of the Real Madrid net.
Match Date: Saturday, November 21st, at 18:15 CET
Place: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
COMPETITION: Primera Liga, matchday 12
Probable Line Ups for El Clasico 21-11-2015:
Goalkeeper-> Kiko Casilla
Defenders-> Danilo, Ramos, Marcelo, Varane
Midfielders-> Kroos, Casemiro, Modric
Forwards-> Isco, Ronaldo, Bale
Defenders-> Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba
Midfielders-> Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta
Forwards-> Messi, Suarez, Neymar