El Clasico needs no introduction as when two football giants Barcelona and Real Madrid clash against each other, the sporting world stops to witness the intense fight on the pitch.
The stakes will be even higher on Monday when Barcelona travel to their ‘favourite’ away ground Santiago Bernabeu for the La Liga clash. Both clubs are on their toes to lift the La Liga trophy this season and defending champions Barcelona will enter the game as the table toppers with a two-point lead over Real Madrid.
Despite being the top-2 on the points table, Barca and Madrid are far from their best this season. Barcelona are once again riding on talisman Lionel Messi’s shoulders, while the Los Blancos, who started the season on a decent note have taken a step back in their last few games.
Problems in paradise for both Barcelona and Real Madrid after UCL clash
The Spanish giants will enter the El Clasico after the exhausted UEFA Champions League ties where Barcelona drew against Napoli in an away fixture, while Madrid lost 1-2 against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at home.
In the game against Napoli, the Blaugrana looked underconfident as their leader Lionel Messi was pretty much contained by Gennaro Gattuso’s tactics. Gattuso approach was clear as he directed his team to cover Messi with 3 to 4 players, which has been more often done against him in the international stage. Messi was hesitant throughout the game to shoot the ball and that’s the problem with Barca, as whenever he looked a little bit off they started to choke. Against Real, Quique Setien needs to think out-of-the-box like Guardiola to beat them.
Meanwhile, Madrid had an awful night at Bernabeu against Manchester City. They were outclassed by Guardiola's tactics as their attack and midfield were exposed in the game. Los Blancos' top scorer this season - Karim Benzema had only in 18 touches against City, which means a touch in every 5 minutes as he stayed in the match till full time. Madrid's must dependable player Casemiro was also found out of position in the second half which resulted in two goals in the later stage of the game. Zinedine Zidane needs to pull up his socks to prove his prophecy in the second stint with Madrid as manager.
Lack of attacking game by both teams
Barcelona have been playing in their traditional game style 'tika-tika' in the past decade and they did quite well in front of the net with that. Similarly, Madrid have a habit of scoring goals on the counter-attacking run.
But this season, both teams have faced the same problems of scoring goals. Barcelona are fully dependant on Messi for scoring chances, meanwhile, Los Blancos hasn't able to found the rightful successor of Cristiano Ronaldo since his departure.
For Barcelona, Messi has scored 20 goals this season, while second on the list is Luis Suarez with 14 goals. However, he suffered with an injured and has been ruled out from the season. After the Uruguayan, third on the list is Antoine Greizmann with 10 goals, who has not been at his best this season but he still managed to score some crucial goals for the team. Barcelona's bench strength this season is poor, which is hurting them in front of goals with less attacking options.
On the other hand, Benzema has netted 14 goals for Madrid this season and with most of them coming in last year. The second on the list for them is Sergio Ramos, with just 7 goals, who is a defender. That is enough to show how weak Madrid are this season with their attacking tactics. Also, Luka Jovic and Gareth Bale are having an off-season with just 2 goals across all competitions.
Players who can turn the game upside down (Apart from Messi and Benzema)
Antoine Griezmann - Barcelona
Griezmann is a workhorse and he has proved it this season for Barcelona. He might not hit a ton of goals this season, but his work rate is marvellous with him switching to defence during counter-attacking moves by the opposition.
Everyone knows that Messi doesn't run much in the field and his main motive is always to create chances for the team and this makes Griezmann's role crucial in switching between attack and defence.
Isco - Real Madrid
It's still a mystery why a player of Isco's calibre is still not a starter in every game for Madrid. A player like Isco can produce some magic for Madrid as he did it in the first leg of El Clasico this season.
Isco's game style is pretty much suited to Barcelona's which helps him to create spaces against them. With Isco playing in the midfield, Benzema would have a lot of help in the front with more balls coming to him in the game.