The other side of Barça v Ajax
Check how the two rivals have fared in the eight Liga games played until now
This weekend, third placed Real Madrid host Liga leaders Barça at the Santiago Bernabéu. Both sides are top in certain statistical categories. For example, Madrid have scored more goals, but Barça have conceded the fewest (none!) and have made the most passes. Here’s the lowdown on how the two sides have performed so far in the domestic championship as they prepare to go head-to-head on Saturday.
|Goals from free kicks
|Goals from headers
In the last 25 years, FC Barcelona have won 9, drawn 6 and lost 10 league games at the Santiago Bernabéu. We examine the recent history of games between Real Madrid and Barça
Both strikers have scored in each of FC Barcelona’s last five games
The Brazilian has ten goals season and the Argentinian has nine
Any team would be pleased to know that their striker has found the net in five consecutive games. But at Barça’s it’s even better. Both Leo Messi and Neymar Jr have achieved the feat, scoring 13 goals between them. Here’s a selection of other stats from the 3-1 win over Ajax on Tuesday night.
Neymar has scored ten goals this season and is followed in the FCB ranking by Messi with nine.
Messi has scored 69 goals in the Champions League, the same as Cristiano Ronaldo. The race is on to see who gets to top Raúl González’s all-time record, which is just two goals away.
Leo Messi was substituted by Munir after 65 minutes, meaning Ajax was the first game this season in which he didn’t play the full ninety.
Of the 25 goals that Neymar has scored for Barça, ten of those have been to put the team ahead.
Sandro scored his third goal for Barça and his first in the Champions League. His previous victims were Villarreal (0-1) and Levante (0-5), both away from home, so this was his first ever competitive goal at the Camp Nou.
Only four players have started all three Champions League games this season: Ter Stegen, Dani Alves, Messi and Neymar Jr.
Rafinha came on for the last 19 minutes to get his first football since the 1-0 win over APOEL.
Pedro was the only Barça player to get booked last night, and has now got yellow cards in his last two games for Barça.
The attendance at the Camp Nou was 79,357 spectators. That’s the second best figure of the season, only topped by the 80,181 that watched the game with Athletic Bilbao.
“I generally enjoyed the game” said the FC Barcelona coach. “Although there were ten isolated minutes when our opponents could have got back in it”
Zubizarreta: “It’ll be a great game on Saturday”
Director of Andoni Zubizarreta, speaking after tonight’s game with Ajax, has now shifted his thoughts to Saturday’s Clásico. “We’re going into the game in fine form” he commented. “We are winning our matches. There’s still a whole world ahead of us, but we’re in fine positions in La Liga and the Champions League.” Zubizarreta knows that both Barça and Real Madrid have top notch squads, “and so it’s going to be a great game. We’re going to enjoy it.”
Luis Enrique felt his team performed excellently against Ajax, especially in the first 45 minutes. Although there was a moment at the end of the game that could have seen the Dutch get away with a point, the Barça manager rarely felt his side was threatened. “Generally I liked the game“ he said after the final whistle. “We were very much the better team in the first half. There were ten minutes when they could have got back into it, but they were ten very isolated minutes … We ended up winning deservedly. We were much more powerful than our opponent.”[[CITA_1]]This was far from being the best performance from Barça since Luis Enrique took the reins of the first team, and the Asturian is aware that there’s a need to correct things to avoid games going down to the wire like this one did when at one point Barça had looked home and dry. “That’s the risk you face if you don’t finish games off” he said.
As for his decision to take off his star strikers Messi and Neymar, Luis Enrique said that “we had planned to make those changes as long as the result was going the way we had hoped it would.”
Luis Enrique also spoke about Iniesta, who “has been playing his best football since the start of the season, and Mascherano brings a certain sense to the team and is a spectacular defender.” He also commented on Sergio Busquets’ hip injury, which he hopes is not so serious that it’ll mean he’ll have to sit out the Clásico.
Asked whether he was finding it hard to decide what eleven to field in Madrid, the FCB said it would, “but that’s a nice problem. Like any coach I am trying to keep all of my players happy. Any of these players could start at the Bernabéu and could perform well.”