Barcelona are set to play hosts to Real Madrid at Camp Nou tomorrow for the latest edition of the El Clasico.
One of the most famous derbies across the world, the El Clasico pits arguably the two biggest clubs in the world against each other, with some of the best players in the world playing for either club.
The rivalry, in recent years, has often been seen as a showdown between the two greatest players in the world, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. There have been some fierce battles and high-octane football resulting in some legendary El Clasico matches.
Ronaldo might have left Real Madrid, but Messi remains at Barcelona. While both clubs are not at their very best at the moment, the El Clasico remains a potential title-decider.
Given Barcelona’s troubles over the past few months, we look at 5 reasons why Real Madrid will beat Barcelona.
#5) Madris is a more cohesive unit
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos with Zinedine Zidane.
Zinedine Zidane is now in his second spell as the manager of Real Madrid. During his first spell from 2016-2018, the Frenchman managed to win three consecutive Champions League titles.
Having taken over once more in 2019, the structure and the core of the squad remain similar. Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema were all key players during Zidane’s first term and they continue to remain so now. They are all aware of how Zidane wants his team to play.
Barcelona, on the other hand, have entered a new era under the management of Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman’s style of play is not renowned for its expansiveness. While the initial results have generally been positive, there are clear signs that work needs to be done and n adaptation to Koeman’s methods will take time.
#4 Barcelona’s defence
Gerard Pique continues to play a key role in the Barcelona defence.
While Ronald Koeman’s arrival has certainly had a positive impact on what was a chaotic defensive structure last season, problems still exist with Barcelona’s personnel.
An ageing Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet remain Barcelona’s primary central defensive partnership. Jordi Alba is unavailable for this game, so it is likely that young full-back Sergino Dest could make his El Clasico debut tomorrow.
Despite the absence of Eden Hazard and Martin Odegaard, Real Madrid’s attacking options include Karim Benzema, Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr. and Marco Asensio, all of whom are capable of running opposition defences ragged. Barcelona’s haphazardly constructed defence could very well be in the line of fire when the two sides meet.
#3 Barcelona’s reliance on youngsters
Ansu Fati has been a key player for Barcelona.
During Ronald Koeman’s reign so far, the manager has shown a reliance on young talent, with substantial minutes being given to youngsters.
The star at Barcelona so far has been 17-year-old attacker Ansu Fati, who has scored four goals in five games. Summer signings, 17-year-old midfielder Pedri and 20-year-old Francisco Trincao, alongside the aforementioned Dest, have all been key players for Barcelona so far this season.
While all the players mentioned above have shown quality, and are destined to have a bright future in the game, the El Clasico is the biggest stage of them. Throwing these youngsters in the deep end against the likes of Sergio Ramos and Casemiro could potentially make or break them.
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#2 Barcelona’s lack of strength and depth
Antoine Griezmann has not been in good form for Barcelona.
Barcelona have some good players in their team, but questions remain over the squad’s bench strength.
The departures of Arturo Vidal, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Nelson Semedo, and Arthur Melo has streamlined the squad, with Barcelona only truly replacing Melo and Semedo. The full-back positions lack cover, while an injury-prone Samuel Umtiti is the third-choice centre-back.
In midfield, an ageing Sergio Busquets continues to start with Frenkie de Jong and Philippe Coutinho, with new signing Miralem Pjanic and youngsters Pedri, Carles Alena and Riqui Puig the only other options.
While Fati’s form has managed to cover up the deficiencies in the attack, the form of Antoine Griezmann remains a concern. Ousmane Dembele’s fitness continues to be an issue as well, which means that there is added pressure on Fati and Lionel Messi to lead the attack, with Martin Braithwaite an uninspiring option from the bench.
#1 The form of Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is yet to score a goal from open play.
The Lionel Messi-Barcelona saga was the talking point for much of the summer, with Barcelona’s captain and talisman announcing his decision to leave the club.
While that may not have occurred for a variety of reasons, Messi is yet to hit his best form this season. The Argentine superstar has only one league goal in four games, with no goals from open play so far. Even manager Ronald Koeman has admitted that the Argentine’s form could be better.
While he has only one year left in his contract, it seems unlikely that Messi’s head has been turned. However, his lack of form is concerning, and could potentially place Real Madrid in the driving seat tomorrow.
Also Read: Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi’s performances could be better, admits coach Ronald Koeman