La Liga prepares for the first El Clasico of the season, as Barcelona are set to lock horns with arch-rivals Real Madrid this Saturday.
Hampered by injuries, Barca have an uphill task of holding off Los Blancos, who top the league table and will look to claim the bragging rights in the Clasico.
Nevertheless, the long injury list hasn’t deterred Barca from playing their best football, as they have been unbeaten across all competitions this season, thanks to a handful of La Masia graduates who have stepped up big time.
With both teams coming off a win in their respective Champions League ventures, Saturday’s Clasico makes for a great spectacle.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid Match Preview
Barca’s poor injury streak has escalated over the past month, with key players following each other to the treatment room as if a pack of cards were falling.
While it was feared the absence of the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Sergi Roberto could curtail Barca’s momentum, Xavi has weathered the storm with the help of academy talents.
The emergence of Lamine Yamal, Fermin Lopez and Marc Guiu has alleviated the absence of big stars, and their excellent contribution further fortified the status of La Masia as one of the best academies in the world.
The Blaugrana are currently third in the table with 24 points (W7 D3 in 10 games), only a point adrift of Madrid.
Their spirit will be running high following last night’s 2-1 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk, where Ferran Torres and Fermin Lopez found the score sheet.
As much as Xavi was able to relish his side’s convincing win with a nearly second-string side, Joao Felix’s injury marred the result.
However, the setback appears to be not serious, and he is expected to be available for the Clasico.
Talking about the Clasico, Barca have re-established their dominance under the leadership of Xavi after some idle years, with the Spanish gaffer tasting four victories in the last five derbies.
The legendary midfielder will aim to continue the impressive run, and a victory on Saturday will take his side to the top of the league table.
On the other hand, Los Merengues will be looking to hand the Catalan giants their first defeat of the season.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have started the campaign in the way they would have wanted, aided by Jude Bellingham’s imperious form.
The English midfielder has taken La Liga by storm, netting 11 goals and three assists in all competitions as well as topping the league’s scoring charts.
The 20-year-old will be coming on the back of another excellent display against Union Berlin – where he also found the net – and will look to add Barca as his next victim.
Rodrygo also found the nets to end his barren run and gain much-needed confidence as well. The Brazilian forward will look to build on it against Barca.
Eduardo Camavinga and Luka Modric also produced brilliant performances from the midfield.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid Team News
Barcelona are waiting to learn whether they can recover some of their injured stars for the Clasico.
While Pedri is ruled out of the contest, it is being reported that Lewandowski, De Jong and Raphinha could make it to the squad if their recovery goes well.
Given the magnitude of a contest like Clasico, Xavi would be desperate to field the trio on Saturday, but at the same time, he can’t afford to force their comebacks as it could aggravate their injuries.
Lamine Yamal and Ferran Torres could lose their starting berths should Raphinha and Lewandowksi get the medical green light.
Gavi will return to the eleven after missing the Shakhtar game through suspension. He will be supported by Ilkay Gundogan, and the remaining spot in the midfield is up for grabs if De Jongs fails to recover in time.
Fermin Lopez has a great chance to get the go-ahead from Xavi following a stellar performance against Shakhtar.
Elsewhere, Bellingham handed Madrid a slight injury scare during the game against Braga, but there appears to be no concerns over his participation against Barca.
Apart from the long-term injured players, Ancelotti has no fresh injury concerns and can summon his best eleven for the Clasico.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid possible lineups
Barcelona potential starting XI
Marc Andre ter Stegen, Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen, Joao Cancelo, Alejandro Balde, Ilkay Gundogan, Gavi, Fermin Lopez, Joao Felix, Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha
Real Madrid potential starting XI
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Antonio Rudiger, Nacho, David Alaba, Dani Carvajal, Eduardo Camavinga, Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde, Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes
We Say: Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid
Given the attacking prowess of both teams, a goal-laden contest is on the cards. Since the two Spanish giants are also prone to conceding goals, we are going with a 2-2 draw.