Real Madrid and Barcelona are measured in a classic to which the two arrive at the best moment of the season, although decaffeinated
The countdown is over. The classic, the match par excellence of Spanish football, the one that stops activity all over the planet, is here. Real Madrid and Barcelona meet this Sunday at the Santiago Bernabéu at the best possible time for both. The whites have put the direct to win the League title and their morale is through the roof after finishing in the Champions League with PSG, while the azulgranas are the best team so far in 2022 and step on the feud of the eternal rival with the idea of confirming the good dynamics in which they are immersed. Without Messi and without Cristiano Ronaldo, yes, but with the weight of history on his shoulders. The mother of all battles returns and Madrid and Barça arrive with their swords held high, although the classic is presented this time decaffeinated, without the injured Karim Benzema and with the leader with a 15-point advantage over the eternal rival, with one more game .
Real Madrid lands in the classic with the mission of leaving sight to sentence the League. Carlo Ancelotti's team is the most regular so far this season and has been biting bit by bit into a trophy that he has been lifting since the first round of the championship. The Real Madrid coach has managed to put together a group that no longer remembers the old glories of the past and in which new main actors emerge. So much so, that a victory against the eternal rival could serve as the finishing touch to an almost placid year. Winning Xavi Hernández's team at the Bernabéu means giving a blow to the table, increasing an already comfortable advantage over the pursuers and emphasizing a message that they already made clear at the Camp Nou (1-2). Today whites rule.
To achieve that victory that leaves the League almost packed, Ancelotti will not be able to count on Benzema or Ferland Mendy, however. The French striker was unable to finish the last league match against Mallorca and this Saturday he was permanently discharged due to discomfort in the soleus of his left leg. The top scorer for Real Madrid and the League will not be able to spearhead the leader against Barça. In defense, to alleviate Mendy's absence, Nacho could be his replacement to stop Dembélé's internships. The Modric-Casemiro-Kroos trio would once again have the upper hand and Vinicius and Asensio would be fixed, waiting for who would be the third member of the attacking trident. Rodrygo, Hazard, Jovic and even Valverde, to gain muscle, are vying for a place in the eleven in the absence of the '9', who adds up to more than a third of Madrid's goals this season.
Rearmed with Xavi
It will not be an easy game for Ancelotti's men. Barça is no longer that team without confidence that was devastated by the eternal rival in the first round at the Camp Nou. Xavi has managed to rearm the Catalans around the signs of identity that have traditionally existed in the Catalan entity. The forward pressure, the game of position or the continuous mobility of the entire attacking front return to the Bernabéu with the idea of re-greening old laurels. Barça has gotten up and 2022 bears witness to this, with 23 points achieved from the last 27 at stake. There is no better time to arrive in Madrid and proclaim in the capital: «We have returned». It is the ideal time to close a wound that already lasts too long. They are five consecutive defeats against the whites. Too many for a crowd that still has great performances in Chamartín in recent memory, such as 2-6 in 2009 or 0-4 in 2015.
To end the losing streak against Real Madrid, Xavi will be able to count on all the backbone that he beat Galatasaray in Istanbul. The Barça coach recovers Dani Alves, not registered in the Europa League, although he will not be able to count on the injured Sergiño Dest, Balde, Sergi Roberto, Umtiti and Ansu Fati. They will be the only absences in a team that will have Piqué despite the discomfort he has suffered in recent weeks and in which the unknown is in Gavi's competition in the attacking trident to add one more piece in the midfield. Gavi could accompany Dembélé and Aubameyang ahead of a midfield already established with Busquets, Pedri and Frenkie de Jong who will try to dominate the game against Casemiro, Kroos and Modric. A good part of the Blaugrana's success goes through that part of the pitch.
Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Nacho, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Asensio, Vinicius and Hazard.
Ter Stegen, Dani Alves, Piqué, Araujo, Jordi Alba, Pedri, Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Dembélé, Aubameyang and Gavi.
Martinez Munuera (Valencian).
Stadium and hours:
Santiago Bernabeu. 9:00 p.m. (Movistar LaLiga).