Barcelona vs Real Madrid Preview: Team News, Classic Encounter, Key Battles & More
The first official Clasico of the season takes place on Sunday evening, as a buoyant Real Madrid side are hosted by fierce rivals Barcelona in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
The Catalan giants come into the game on the back of the bitter loss of superstar Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for a world record fee of £198m, and will hope to prove that there is life after the Brazilian in the first clasico of the new season.
Los Blancos, meanwhile, come into the game on a high having added the European Super Cup to their coffers with a midweek victory over Manchester United, and will hope to take steps towards adding yet another trophy to their cabinet on Sunday.
Real Madrid 3 – 4 Barcelona (23/03/14)
With so many amazing Clasico ties to choose from, including the most recent, a notorious Liga tie based on Lionel Messi’s iconic goal celebration alone, we eventually settled on this clash of titans during the 2013/14 season.
Though the league was eventually won by Atletico Madrid in this year, this game went some way towards making the league more competitive than it should have been.
Barcelona breathed new life into their title hopes as a Lionel Messi hat-trick helped fire them to victory in a thrilling match against a 10-man Real Madrid. Sergio Ramos (who else) was the pantomime villain here, with his 63rd minute sending off handing Barca the impetus to overturn a 3-2 deficit.
Aleix Vidal vs Cristiano Ronaldo
Vidal has managed to work his way into Barca manager Valverde’s thinking with a series of impressive pre-season displays, keeping new €32m signing Nelson Semedo out of the side in recent games.
He will face his stiffest test yet on Sunday however, as he comes up against arguably the world’s best player in Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese will be fresh having featured late against Manchester United in midweek, and can be expected to probe Vidal at every given opportunity.
Madrid will find themselves without the services of Luka Modric for the first leg. The Croat received a red card the last time Los Blanco’s featured in this game (2014) and has seen his suspension carry over from that period.
Outside of this, there are no injury worries within the squad.
The same can be said for Barcelona, whose only long term absentee, former Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen, has been absent from first team duty in general for several seasons.
For all Barcelona’s undoubted quality, Madrid have been in simply sensational form in 2017, and it can be expected that they will continue this run against their rivals here.
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi will undoubtedly have an impact on the game, with Barca expected to score against a Madrid team who struggle to keep clean sheets against them, but at the other end of the park Barca’s fragile defence should be no match for the restored BBC with Isco and Kroos creating behind them.
Barcelona 1 – 3 Real Madrid