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Ter Stegen; Mingueza, De Jong, Lenglet; Dest, Pedri, Busquets, Alba; Griezmann, Messi, Dembele
Real Madrid host Barcelona at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium in another El Clasico. They both look to catch the first place, currently hold by Atletico Madrid. I will start my preview with a short story about the rivalry. Madrid and Barcelona are the largest cities in Spain and they are sometimes identified with opposing political positions. Real Madrid are viewed as representing Spanish nationalism, while Barcelona fans are supporters of the Catalan independence. As early as the 1930s, Barcelona "had developed a reputation as a symbol of Catalan identity, opposed to the centralizing tendencies of Madrid". In 1936, when general Franco started the war against the democratic Second Spanish Republic, the president of Barcelona, Josep Sunyol, member of the Republican Left of Catalonia and Deputy to The Cortes, was arrested and executed without trial by Franco's troops. Barcelona was on top of the list of organizations to be purged by the National faction, just after communists and anarchists. During the Franco dictatorship, most citizens of Barcelona were in strong opposition to the fascist-like regime. Phil Ball, the author of Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football, says about the match; "They hate each other with an intensity that can truly shock the outsider".
Now about the match. Real are in good form at the moment. They are in series of three victories in La Liga. Los Blancos first beat Elche with 2:1, then Celta Vigo with 3:1 and Eibar with 2:0 last weekend. Karim Benzema is in excellent form this season, scoring 18 goals in 25 La Liga outings. Real are also successful in the Champions League. They beat Liverpool with 3:1 on Tuesday and almost secured a semi-finals. The key name on the match was Vinicius Junior who scored twice. The atmosphere in the squad is excellent, while the players confidence is very high. But coach Zinedine Zidane has big injury issues. He will again be without the captain Sergio Ramos due to a calf problem, while Dani Carvajal is sidelined with a thigh issue. Raphael Varane is unavailable due to a positive coronavirus test, and Eden Hazard is rated as doubtful with a muscular problem. The French coach will surely want to rest some of his key players as they go to Anfield four days later, but the importance of this match is very big. Many believe that Zizu could decide to start with the same eleven that took to the field against Liverpool. Federico Valverde is an option if Zidane decided to change something.
Barcelona are on the second place, one point behind the leaders Atletico Madrid. That means they will spent at least 24 hours on the top if collect a point or three here. The actual form is excellent, they have six wins in a row. They beat Elche with 3:0, Sevilla with 2:0, Osasuna with 2:0, Huesca with 4:1, Real Sociedad with 6:1 and Valladolid with narrow 1:0 on Monday. Most of these goals were scored or assisted by Messi. The 33-year-old is now the leading scorer in Primera Division with 23 goals. The Argentine also has eight assists to his name. What is more important, he looks happy and it appears increasingly likely that he will sign a new contract this summer. However, this match could be crucial for the "Little magician". A good performance in El Classico will surely be a reason to continue in the club that made him a superstar. Koeman is still missing the injured Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho, while the reserve goalkeeper Neto Moura is struggling with an ankle injury. Experienced central defender Gerard Pique has recovered from a knee problem, but he is unlikely to start. Sergi Roberto is in similar situation - he is named in the squad, but is unlikely to be in the starting eleven. The attack is the strongest part of the team, with Dembele and Griezmann supporting Messi.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona Prediction:
We all expect an interesting match, a genuine derby. I think Barcelona are closer to the victory. First of all, the Catalans are out of the Champions League and they are fully focused on this match. But there is more - Zidane is missing two key central defenders. As I already wrote above, captain Sergio Ramos sidelined with a calf injury, while Raphael Varane is unavailable due to a positive coronavirus test. It will be impossible for Real to stop Messi, Dembele and Griezmann. Barcelona will not make Liverpool's mistakes.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona Pick: Barcelona @ 2.33 with Pinnacle
They are not in form recently, getting 3D-2L. They rank the ninth in League table with 36 points. They play well as host, getting 7W-3D-4L in host game this season so far, with 23 scoring goals and 13 conceding goals in total.
They have been winless for seven matches, which causes them in low morale. They rank in the bottom of League table. By the way, Javier Calleja Revilla takes the place of Abelardo Perico as the new coach of Alaves,
Both of them are not in good condition. Athletic Bilbao are slightly better than Alaves. Besides, they are good at host game. So it is predicted that Athletic Bilbao are going to win in upcoming game.