‘The New Face of Madrid’- El Clasico Preview

The most dominant powerhouses in Spanish football and arguably the biggest clubs in world football come to battle in the most popular game worldwide, the ‘El Clasico’. The deeply rooted and venomous rivalry has historically favored Los Blancos, with the Madridsters winning 101 official matches played between these two sides. Despite this, both Real and Barca have won one El Clasico so far this season, with both matches being won 3-1. Even though Xavi’s men come into this game being 7 points ahead at the top of the La Liga table, Barca’s recent lack of form and Madrid’s home advantage complicates things for the Blaugrana. The first leg of this Copa del Rey Semi-final will see Madrid host Barca for the 2nd time this season and is a crucial game for Brazilian winger Vinicius Junior, as he aims to solidify himself as the face of Real Madrid for years to come.

Barcelona Team News

(Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

A sour end to the month of February saw Barca lose their first 2 games since October, with losses in the Europa League to English outlet Manchester United and in the La Liga to bottom-half Almeria. The Catalans will once again be without midfielder Pedri and winger Ousmane Dembele, whose presence was missed during Barcelona’s last two games. Without the attacking verve of 20 year old Pedri and the creative flair of Frenchman Ousmane Dembele, Barca could only mount 4 shots on target in the two recent losses and have underperformed their 2.63 XG by only scoring 1 goal.

Hit with another injury blow, Barca’s top goal scorer Robert Lewandowski will miss out on the first leg of the Copa del Rey Semi-final. The Blaugrana have confirmed that the Polish striker will miss the game due to a hamstring strain, a relief for Real Madrid who will be fortunate to not face La Liga’s top scorer this season. Three significant injuries creates concerns for Xavi’s side, who wish to beat Real at the Bernabeu for the first time this season.

Real Madrid Team News

(Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

An extremely busy February saw Real Madrid win 6 out of 8 games in 3 different competitions. The most notable performance of February for Ancelotti’s men was the 5-2 demolition of Liverpool at Anfield in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. Last month Real also managed to win the FIFA Club World Cup for the 5th time in club history.

Defenders Ferland Mendy and David Alaba were both not included in Los Blancos’s squad for the upcoming El Clasico, both missing the match due to hamstring issues. On a more positive note for Real Madrid, Brazilian forward Rodrygo has made a swift return from injury as he only missed one game after coming off injured at Anfield. Aurelien Tchouameni’s recovery from the flu could push Ceballos out of the Real Madrid midfield and further bolster Madrid’s solidity in the middle of the park.

The return of a couple key players amplifies Madrid’s chances at the Bernabeu, as Los Blancos hope to return to winning ways after recently drawing1-1 in El Derbi Madrileno – the Madrid Derby.

Predicted Lineups

FC Barcelona: With injuries to their top three La Liga scorers so far this season, the Catalunian outlet will need to rely on some rotation players for the 3rd El Clasico of the 2022/23 season. Here’s how Barca could potentially lineup:

Ter Stegen, Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde, De Jong, Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Raphinha, Ferran Torres, Gavi

Real Madrid: Unlike the Blaugrana, Los Blancos’s lineup is bolstered with a variety of returns for injury as Real hope top beat Barca at the Bernabeu again this season. Here’s how Real Madrid could potentially lineup:

Courtois, Carvajal, Eder Militao, Rudiger, Nacho, Modric, Tchouameni, Kroos, Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius

Predicted Player of the Game – Vinicius Junior

(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

The number 7 jersey for Real Madrid has historically been worn by some of the best footballers to grace the planet. In the early years, the likes of Kopa, Amancio and Juanito donned the number 7 on their backs between the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. In more modern time, legends Emilio Butragueno, Raul and Cristiano Ronaldo had the privilege of wearing this historic number.

Over the past few days rumors have spread that Real Madrid’s current no.20, Brazilian wonderkid Vinicius Junior, will be offered the number 7 jersey at the beginning of the 2023/24 season. Eden Hazard’s largely disappointing stint at Real saw him not live up to the legendary number on his back, and his number 7 will likely be handed over to the Brazilian winger. With some fans of Real Madrid questioning this decision, Vinicius will look to prove himself with a legendary performance at home in the fiercest game in world football. We predict that in this El Clasico, Vinicius will cement himself as the new face of Madrid for years to come!

Despite Vinicius’s lack of clinical success against the Balugrana, the Brazilian international’s extra motivation will push him to perform at his best and prove the doubters wrong in this Clasico. Vinicius’ recent run of form saw him score 5 goals and provide 3 assists in the last 5 games. Real Madrid’s joint top scorer this season has only scored 2 goals in 11 games against the Catalans, but Vinicius will look to add to this tally in the Copa del Rey tonight. His matchup against right back Jules Kounde and right sided center back Ronaldo Araujo will be a spectacle, but the Brazilians recent burst of form and Barca’s defensive struggles in the past 2 games could see Vinicius win the overall battle on the night. We predict a brace for Vinicius in the first leg of the Copa del Rey Semi-final tonight!

(Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Result Prediction

Whilst a victory and a formidable performance for Barcelona at the Bernabeu could see their short stinted lack of form be eradicated, injuries to three of their most in form players this season makes the trip to Madrid all the more difficult. Without Lewandowski Pedri and Dembele, Barca’s creative spark is truly diminished and we predict that Barcelona will struggle to mount many shots on target and big chances for the 3rd game in a row.

Furthermore, Los Blancos’s spectacular February and recoveries from injuries sees their midfield and forward line bolstered for this El Clasico. Completely bossing the midfield and attacking with pace down the wings, we see Real Madrid dominating injury-riddled Barcelona and potentially putting this Copa del Rey tie to bed.

We say: 3-0 Real Madrid – Goal Scorers: Vinicius (2), Benzema


What’s your predicton?


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