The biggest game in world football, commonly known as ‘El Clasico’ as a testament to the magnitude of the fixture, is finally upon us as Zinedine Zidane’s unbeaten Real Madrid side travel to Barcelona for the biggest test of their season so far.
Real Madrid are currently leading the La Liga table comfortably, with 10 wins and 3 draws in 13 matches so far. Contrastingly, Barcelona are currently struggling and are 6 points behind the league leaders. Barcelona’s morale as a club is quite low, especially after the disastrous 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad on Saturday, a result which led to criticism from their manager Luis Enrique.
Barcelona have no new injury concerns ahead of this game. Their infamous trio ‘MSN’ is 100% fit and raring to go for this big fixture. Andres Iniesta is still out as he is recovering from his long-term knee-ligament damage. Center Back Samuel Umtiti is also expected to be unavailable as he missed his last two games due to a hamstring injury. Arda Turan, however, should be available for selection despite missing the last game due to fever.
The Champions League winners will be without the services of primary winger Gareth Bale, after the Welshman dislocated an ankle tendon, and was initially expected to be sidelined for 4 months. Though his injury is not as bad as first expected, this game still comes too soon for him and he is definitely ruled out. Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo have been declared 100% fit though, and should start alongside James Rodriguez, who will be the likely choice to replace Bale in the starting 11.
Though on form, Real Madrid should be expected to win this fixture, the absence of Gareth Bale has swung the favour towards Barcelona, and the home side is 10/11 favourites to win this crucial clash. Real Madrid are 11/4 to get a massive away win while a draw is set at 3/1.
The game will kick off at 3:15 pm GST, and for that reason it will not be telecast live in the UK, as the laws prevent sports channels to telecast foreign football matches before 5:30 pm GST.
beIN Sports have the exclusive rights for this match in several top countries, mainly Canada, USA, Australia and Portugal. They will also have extensive pre and post-match coverage of the game.
In the Indian Subcontinent the game will be shown live on Star Sports and Star Sports Select, while in South America it will be shown on ESPN Latin America.
This game is absolutely a must-win fixture for Barcelona, and they will be hoping that the Camp Nou faithful rise to the occasion and carry their team through this tough task. Real Madrid have the chance to take a seemingly unassailable 9 point lead over their greatest rivals and hence this game promises to be a blockbuster.