Real Madrid host Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Sunday night. Blaugrana sit some 15 points off Los Blancos in the title race (with a game in hand) but will want to tighten their grip on a top-four finish. Both teams have won their last four matches in a row in La Liga and have had important wins in Europe in recent weeks, versus PSG and Galatasaray respectively.
Real Madrid Form
Carlo Ancelotti’s side suffered a slight dip in late January up to mid-February, going on a run of just one win in five across all competitions. Athletic Bilbao put Madrid out of the Coppa Del Rey and PSG dominated them in a 1-0 away loss in the Champions League, with only shots all game. Since that first leg result, which drew significant criticism, Los Blancos have won five matches in a row.
They beat Alaves 3-0 at home and won 1-0 at Rayo Vallecano. A 4-1 home thrashing of Real Sociedad followed. A Karim Benzema hattrick then sealed an incredible comeback from 1-0 down to beat PSG 3-1 at home to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals. They maintained their focus to winning 3-0 at Mallorca in their last match. Benzema has scored eight goals in this five-match winning run.
Real Madrid Team News
Madrid are expected to be without Ferland Mendy, who injured his groin in the win at Mallorca and has been carrying several knocks of late. The big question mark is whether Benzema is fit. He was rushed back for the PSG ties but injured his calf at Mallorca and is a serious doubt for the Clasico.
Ancelotti has no suspensions to deal with and has real options in midfield and in the wide areas. If Benzema misses out, they may need to go with Marco Asensio as a false nine with Rodrygo down the right.
Real Madrid Motivation
Madrid will be keen to make it six wins in a row and to keep their 10 point gap to Sevilla in second spot. Ancelotti will play for the win but knows his side need to be compact and sit quite deep against teams with the pace of Barcelona.
Although Real won’t be as defensive as they were away at PSG, expect them to only have around 40-45% of the ball in this one.
Barca are in outstanding form under Xavi, whose ideas have really been imbedded now into the squad. The last 11 matches in all competitions have brought eight wins and three draws. The side have been scoring goals for fun during that streak. They beat Atletico Madrid 4-2 at home and won 4-1 at Valencia.
They also put goals past Napoli in Italy and then four past Athletic Bilbao in La Liga. After a surprise 0-0 home draw with Galatasaray in the Europa League first leg, they trashed Osasuna 4-0 at home as the goals kept raining down. In midweek, they travelled to Turkey and beat Galatasaray 2-1. Pedri and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got the goals.
Barcelona Team News
Barca have a few injury concerns for this one. Gerard Pique has been carrying a groin injury but should be fit. Samuel Umtiti, Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto are all confirmed as being out. Sergino Dest went off injured against Galatasaray so Dani Alves will start at right-back.
Ousmane Dembele could start despite his contract situation in preference to Adama Traore. Ferran Torres and Aubameyang should complete the front three. Gavi is another option, possibly playing as an inside left as part of the front three.
Barca currently sit two points above fifth-placed Real Betis with a game in hand. They will want to win this match to secure their place in the top four spots. A draw would not be a disaster but they won’t play for one.
Xavi will be keen to impose his style of play on Madrid but will also know the danger that Torres, Traore and Dembele can pose on transitions against an ageing opponent.
Real Madrid have won 5 matches in a row against Barcelona
The last 4 meetings between these sides have seen Both teams scoring
Real’s Benzema has scored 8 goals in his last 5 matches
Madrid have won 5 matches in a row, scoring 3+ goals in 4 of them
Barcelona are unbeaten in 11 matches (W8, D11)
Barca have scored 27 goals in their last 10 matches
Barcelona are winless in 6 matches against Real Madrid (LLLLLD)
This should be an excellent match that provides a gauge for Xavi’s amazing progress at Barcelona. Madrid are streetwise and will manage the spaces well but so much comes down to whether Benzema is fit to start and able to influence proceedings to his maximum. Maybe wait for the XI’s to be released to place your bets.
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