- Barcelona hosts Real Madrid on Sunday, May 6th for another El Clasico
- Barcelona has already clinched the title, and a win against their rivals would be a great way to cap off the season
- Real Madrid have a midweek Champions League clash against Bayern Munich to worry about as well
It’s time for the biggest rivalry in Spanish football!
Barcelona hosts Real Madrid for the latest edition of El Clasico this Sunday, and the drama has already begun. Zinedine Zidane has ruled out showing Barca a guard of honor on Sunday, which is customary after a club has clinched the title. Barcelona will nonetheless celebrate their achievement on Sunday, and what better way to cap off a great season than with a win over their rivals.
Barcelona (-145) vs Real Madrid (+350), Draw (+325)
The title race may be over, but the bad blood continues. Barcelona (26-8-0, 86 points) and Real Madrid (21-8-5, 71 points) meet for the last time this season for a mean-spirited grudge match.
Neither side can be completely proud of their season. Barca have been spectacular in the Spanish league, but their quarterfinal elimination at the Champions League remains a stain on their otherwise stellar year. Real Madrid, on the other hand, have been wildly inconsistent throughout the season but are still the favorites to raise the Champions League trophy.
We’ve seen both sides put on amazing performances, but we’ve also seen them capitulate against far lesser clubs. That makes the upcoming derby a tricky one to predict.
Players to Watch
Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t having the best season but even so, he’s saved Real Madrid time and time again, rising to the occasion when needed and clinching the winner. As always, he’ll be a deciding factor on Sunday.
Casemiro has had a spectacular season so far and has become a key component of Real Madrid’s midfield. The defensively-minded mid could play a crucial role in stifling the Barca attack.
It goes without saying that Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are the two men to watch for Barcelona. That’s not going to change any time soon.
Ousmane Dembélé and Paulinho have both had their moments this season, but neither has managed to live up to their eye-watering transfer fees. Coutinho is settling in nicely since moving from Liverpool, but it’ll take a little more time until he’s well and truly at home in Catalonia.
The Camp Nou Advantage
Barcelona have not lost a league match at Camp Nou this season. Well, actually, they haven’t lost a league match anywhere this season. 34 La Liga fixtures; 34 wins. And with just four more games remaining, they’re on track to finish the Spanish season undefeated. They’ve won their last five home fixtures in La Liga, which includes victories over second-place Atletico Madrid (1-0) and fourth-place Valencia (2-1). However, when it comes to their games across all competitions, their record isn’t nearly as impressive.
Real Madrid find themselves in the strange position of being better away (10-4-2, 34 points) than at home (11-4-3, 37 points). Though I think that’s more a testament to their inconsistency rather than any home-away advantage. Los Blancos are the favorites to win the Champions League but for a time they were struggling to remain in the top four in Spain.
Real Madrid have a pretty good recent record at Camp Nou. They beat Barca 3-1 during the pre-season Supercopa series, and posted one win (2-1) and one draw (1-1) the last two times the two sides faced in Barcelona for a league match.
Neither side has much to worry about on the injury front. Ernesto Valverde has a completely fit and ready roster to choose from, and without a midweek Champions League fixture to worry about, we can be sure the squad will be well-rested for Sunday’s game.
Real Madrid has some minor concerns. Isco is nursing a shoulder injury and will miss the Champions League clash against Bayern, but he should be cleared to travel to Barcelona. Right-back Dani Carvajal is struggling with hamstring issues and may not recover in time.
Champions League Priorities
In terms of practical significance, this match isn’t worth much. Barcelona have already clinched the title and Real Madrid will comfortably qualify for the Champions League next season. The more crucial match of the week is the second leg of Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid at the Champions League.
Real Madrid are in the running for their third consecutive Champions League trophy, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Bayern in the mid-70’s.
While beating their bitter rivals is always a high priority, getting into the finals of the Champions League is far more important.
Barcelona can focus all their efforts on Sunday’s game. Real Madrid does not have that luxury.
Pick: Real Madrid (+350)
This is not Real Madrid’s best season. Far from it. But Zidane and his men have still, for the most part, managed to perform when it matters. Even when they’re playing sloppy, lumbering soccer, they’re still able to scrape together a win when it counts. This may well be one of those occasions.