The final time that Actual Madrid performed Barcelona within the Spanish league, they brushed apart a workforce struggling to search out its method after being orphaned by Lionel Messi.
Madrid’s 2-1 win in October ignited ugly scenes of livid Barcelona followers banging Ronald Koeman’s automobile because the beleaguered coach sped away from Camp Nou.
Quick ahead to Sunday when Barcelona with Xavi Hernández answerable for a new-look squad will head to the Santiago Bernabéu to check how far they’ve closed the hole with their fiercest rival.
Most “clásico” matches have an effect on the title race. Not a lot this time. Madrid take pleasure in a cushty lead on the prime of the standings and solely a significant collapse will cease them from including to their report 34 league titles.
With 10 video games left, Madrid lead Sevilla by 10 factors and each Barcelona and Atlético Madrid by 15.
The principle query for coach Carlo Ancelotti is whether or not Karim Benzema shall be accessible to play.
The France striker is uncertain after he injured his left leg within the closing minutes of a 3-0 win at Mallorca on Monday. He needed to depart the sport after scoring twice to take his league-leading tally to 22 targets.
The 34-year-old Benzema is enjoying the perfect soccer of his lengthy profession this season. He has scored eight targets in his final 5 matches, together with his second-half hat trick to oust Paris Saint-Germain from the Champions League final week.
If he isn’t match to play, Madrid will flip to winger Vinícius Júnior to steer the assault. His 14 league targets are second solely to Benzema in the complete competitors. Ancelotti might additionally play Marco Asensio as a “false 9” and maybe give Federico Valverde a second straight begin as a romping midfielder.
The Barcelona that Madrid confronted at Camp Nou on Oct. 24 has undergone a profound overhaul. In that loss, Ansu Fati, Memphis Depay and Sergiño Dest began as Barcelona’s entrance three and Philippe Coutinho and Sergio Agüero got here off the bench as substitutes.
Now, thanks a powerful effort by the membership to herald new gamers within the January switch window, Barcelona’s assault options newcomers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ferran Torres and Adama Traoré. And whereas Coutinho and Agüero are now not within the workforce, 38-year-old Dani Alves has returned to play at proper again. Playmaker Pedri González and winger Ousmane Dembélé, who had been injured once they performed in October, additionally present a spark to Barcelona’s assault.
Aubameyang and Torres have made a right away influence since becoming a member of from Arsenal and Manchester Metropolis, respectively. Aubameyang has scored seven targets in simply 10 appearances, with Torres including one other 5 targets. Depay has additionally scored twice just lately, after being sidelined for 2 months with a hamstring harm, giving him a team-high 10 targets for the season.
After struggling to attain earlier than they received their winter reinforcements, Barcelona have scored 4 targets 5 instances over the previous two months.
“(Barcelona) has undergone a giant change since Xavi arrived and has improved its play and is successful video games simply by a giant distinction, so we should watch out,” Madrid’s Valverde informed Cadena SER on Wednesday.
Aubameyang has been significantly spectacular on condition that he was benched at Arsenal earlier than the English membership let him go.
“The reality is, I type of anticipated this as a result of I’ve been working exhausting and needed to make begin (at Barcelona),” Aubameyang stated on Wednesday.
Aubameyang stated that he was flourishing as Barcelona’s pure striker, as in comparison with at Arsenal the place “I performed lots higher on the left.”
“Coach already knew what I might do after I arrived and we’ve labored exhausting on the strain that I have to placed on defenders (to get well the ball) and realizing the way to play in tight areas that’s attribute of this workforce,” the Gabon worldwide stated.
Sevilla, who’ve misplaced floor to Madrid in current weeks, host Actual Sociedad on Sunday.