To finish off what has already been an incredibly intense week. This afternoon at 4:15pm local time. It’s the big one. The game that really needs no introduction. Catalunya versus the capital of Spain. Barcelona versus Madrid. It’s El Clasico! The very first one of the season. Confidence going into the game on the side of Barça has taken a hit. After failing to qualify for the UCL group stages in midweek against Inter.
A game that started off very well for us, but ended in a disappointing 3-3 draw. Meaning that our chances of qualifying for the next round is very very slim. Pretty much non existent. However, as irritating as that is, it is still only one competition. La Liga is our biggest priority right now. And we’ll be looking for a positive reaction from Xavi’s men as we face our eternal rivals, Live from the Santiago Bernabeu. As always, it’s expected to be a very tough game. But one way of boosting confidence is by giving a good account of ourselves in the biggest matchup in world football. And that’s our aim for this afternoon.
Quick look at Real Madrid:
When it comes to El Clasico and our opponents for today, things couldn’t be tighter. We’re level on top of the league with them, with a total of 22 points. Real haven’t yet been beaten this season. But that isn’t to say they haven’t come close to a defeat. In midweek against Shaktar Donetsk, it took a goal from Rudiger in the very last minute to avoid their first defeat of the season.
They are also going to be without their goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, for the game later on. After he picked up an injury a few weeks ago. As we all know with Madrid, they’re going to be a team tough to break down. But at least they won’t be sitting in a deep block, like a lot of teams we face in La Liga. The most important aspect of this game is to score first. Both defences have their frailties. We need to find out ways of exposing them.
A huge boost for us coming into the game is the return of Jules Kounde. It’s an absolutely massive player to have back in the squad. And just having him back gives a sense of re assurance. Xavi confirmed today that he is 100% fit to play. And is most likely to start in his very first Clasico.
Going into this vital clash, there are a few changes that just have to be made from the team in midweek. As a team, we didn’t perform thst bad at all. And in the first half, if was one of the best and most Intense halves we’ve played all season. However, the main reason we drew against Inter was because of individual errors in the defensive part of the field. Sergio Busquets made a number of sloppy passes thriugh the game. This directly led to Inter Milan scoring to take the lead against us. Pique completely lost concentration when defending a simple ball into the box. These two key mistakes cost us the game. So for that reason, they’ve got no right to start in another important game. Xavi needs to make a statement, just like he has been doing all season. And drop those two from the starting lineup.
Like mentioned previously, Kounde returns to the squad which means there is no reason to have Pique in the starting lineup. And as for Busi’s replacement, it simply has to be Frenkie De Jong. He was left as a substitute against Inter, and when he came on, he impacted the match brilliantly. He’s perfect at bringing the ball out of defence. And having him in the midfield, joined with Pedri and Gavi will make us so much quicker in transitions. Kessie can make a good impact off the bench too, so his involvement will be important in this sort of game. Fact of the matter is, Busi and Pique shouldn’t deserve to start. And really, there’s no reason for them too.
Kounde is back
The one question for me is who will be at RB. Personally I think Kounde will play in his natural Centre back position. And seeing as whoever plays on the right side will be up against Vinicius Junior. Xavi probably will want someone quick there. So for me, even though I want Balde to be in his natural left back position. I have a feeling that he will be out at right back, with Jordi Alba at left back. Alonso was poor against inter and doesn’t deserve to start this game either.
In the attack, Raphinha 100% deserves to star after an unbelievable performance against Inter. His work rate and mentality is key in a game like this. He can help out as much in defence as he can upfront. Dembele played almost the whole game against inter, and will most likely start. However, I would absolutely love to see Ansu get a start in El Clasico. That would do his confidence the world of good, and already knows how it’s like to score against Madrid. Of course, the man upfront alongside these two will be Robert Lewandowski. Our top scorer this season and a man who will be desperate to make his mark in his first official El Clasico!
Balde- Eric- Kounde- Alba
Pedri- Frenkie- Gavi
Raphinha- Lewandowski- Ansu