The stage is set as the biggest match in club football history is back as Barcelona battle Real Madrid in an epic 2021 El Clasico this Sunday.
Every clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid is special, but this one will be thrilling since it’ll be the first El Clasico with fans back in the stands since the pandemic.
The Barcelona vs Real Madrid rivalry is very much part of football history all over the world as the first El Clasico in the post Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo era.
This will be their 182nd El Clasico meeting. Real Madrid are slight favorites in head-to-head clashes, having celebrated a victory on 75 occasions so far; FC Barcelona have won 72 times to this day, and a grand number of 35 matches have ended in a draw.
Real have won the past three El Clasico battles against their historic rivals Barcelona, yet they haven’t won four in a row since 1965.
Their most recent game was played on April 10, 2021, when Real Madrid salvaged a late 2-1 win at home at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium in the 2020/21 La Liga season.
Barçelona certainly won’t want that to happen in front of their home fans and will take their seats at Camp Nou with the belief and hope that Ansu Fati can lead the Blaugrana to a famous victory.
The teenager, who scored in this fixture last season to become the youngest ever El Clasico scorer, has returned from a long-term injury and has hit the ground running, netting great goals at home to Levante and Valencia.
Now he’ll hope for an E lClásico strike and three points to get Barça’s season well and truly up and running. Karim Benzema and Vinícius Jr, though, are in great form too and have 18 goals between them already this campaign from just 11 total outings so far.
Both Los Merengues and Los Cules made some good signings in the pre-season summer, and come Sunday several of them will have the opportunity and the honour of being able to make their El Clasico debuts.
Sparks are expected to fly as one can expect a close contest — as has been the case in all the previous encounters between the archrivals in the top flight of the Spanish football league.
Carlo Ancelotti has warned his Real Madrid players that they face a very different test this weekend.
Los Blancos were comfortable winners on Tuesday night as they returned to winning ways in the Champions League with a 5-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
Vinicius Junior scored twice, as well as goals from Karim Benzema and Rodrygo got the job done.
The result gets Real Madrid back on course following their shock defeat to Sheriff in their last Champions League outing.
But Ancelotti is keen for his men to avoid getting carried away, and in a glowing verdict of his team’s latest performance, he has warned that this Sunday’s Clásico clash with Barcelona will be a very different test.
“Vinicius has done very well. It’s difficult to choose a player who has stood out today,” he said after the game.
“Everyone has played very well. We have defended well, we were focused on the game from the first moment.
“We have applied the strategy very well and we have waited for a little. It’s a game that gives us confidence, but against Barcelona is another game, another history.”
Real Madrid head into the clash with Barcelona just two points ahead of their fierce rivals, and they make the trip to Camp Nou having lost their last outing in La Liga, slipping up against Espanyol.
Will Barcelona get a morale-boosting victory at home, or will Real Madrid add further woe to Ronald Koeman.
This is also the first El Clasico meeting between Ronald Koeman and Carlo Ancelotti, even if they’ve each coached in this fixture previously.
The two tacticians have met in their coaching careers, back in 2003 when in charge at Ajax and AC Milan respectively, but they haven’t crossed paths since then.
This Sunday they will look to win a tactical chess match and their decisions could be key to the result of this game and, ultimately, in the title race. It should be as thrilling as El Clásico always is, with just one goalless draw in their past 50 meetings. Expect goals!