The stage for the first El Clasico of the 2020/21 season is set as Barcelona and Real Madrid will lock horns at Camp Nou on Saturday, but are they ready to face each other? Both Barcelona and Real Madrid had a sloppy start to the ongoing season as the Blaugrana are missing the magic of their talisman, Lionel Messi, while the Los Blancos looked unsettled on the pitch.
El Clasico is one of the most anticipated sporting events as stakes are always high when Barca and Real collide against each other. In the last mega-encounter between the two sides, Zinedine Zidane's Madrid registered a convincing 2-0 win at Camp Nou. Vinicius Junior was the star of the game as he scored the first goal of the game in the 71st minute. But Madrid dipped form is a huge concern for Zidane, especially after a humiliating 2-3 defeat by Shakhtar in UCL group stage clash on Wednesday. Interestingly, Shakhtar were missing 10 first-team players in the game due to COVID-19. Earlier, in their previous LaLiga game on October 17, the Los Blancos faced defeat against recently promoted Cadiz.
The problem in Madrid's den lies in the goal-scoring department. The defending champions are still missing an impactful player up front, who can provide them goals consistently. Karim Benzema stood up in the last season for them with 21 goals, while in the ongoing campaign he netted past only once in the five games. With last year's big signing, Eden Hazard, spending most of his time being injured, Madrid are desperately missing Cristiano Ronaldo again, who was their goal-scoring machine, before leaving the club in 2018.
The midfield department also looked slow on the pitch with 35-year-old Luka Modric and 30-year-old Toni Kroos being their main men. Madrid are missing the spark in the midfield, which has not been able to create many chances for attackers to capitalize. To exploit Barcelona's defence, Zidane might go with Isco and Federico Valverde. The Spaniard is one of the most skilful midfielders in the world, while the Uruguayan has impressed everyone with his pace and counter-attacking moves.
The availability of Sergio Ramos has given a huge boost to Madrid's defence, who looked scattered against Shaktar in his absence. Raphael Varane is still not ready to take the charge from the Spaniard, while Eder Militao has been below-average since his arrival. The arrival of Ramos, also opened the goal-scoring option for Madrid, as despite being a center back, he netted 11 goals in 35 games last season.
While, Barcelona started the 20/21 season on a high note with two big back-to-back wins after a trophy-less previous season, but their journey hit a roadblock against Sevilla as the drew with them in a goal-less game. Then the things got worse in the next game after that, when Barca lost to Getafe 1-0 on Sunday.
Meanwhile, they bounced back, with a thumping 5-1 win over Ferencvaros in the UCL game.
Barca are missing the Messi flair in the game, the Argentine has scored once and has provided assist twice in LaLiga. While, Antoine Griezmann's misery in front of goals continues this season as he is yet to register his name on the goal sheet. Young dynamic Ansu Fati is impressed several, with his immense talent at a very young age. The teenage sensation has scored thrice in the tournament.
Barca's midfield looked more settled this season as the comeback of Philippe Coutinho has given both clubs and himself the new club. Frankie De Jong had a good game against Ferencvaros, while Sergio Busquets also been up to the mark in initial games. Newly-signed Miralem Pjanic has still not impressed everyone with their performance but El Clasico might turn into the one game for him, which might change his fortunes.
The defence still remained a questionable department for the Barcelona. Nobody has forgotten's Barcelona humiliation 8-1 against Bayern Munich in last season's UCL quarterfinal. Despite that Barca didn't make some big changes in their defence. It will be a big test for newly appointed Ronald Koeman in the mega clash.
In a game like El Clasico, nobody is referred to as the clear favourite to win the battle. The stakes will be high once again as the win will set-up the tone for both the teams for the rest of the season.