The Spotify Camp Nou will be the scene of a classic with decisive overtones in the battle for the conquest of LaLiga Santander and will decide whether the battle is extended or whether it is seen for the verdict in favor of Barcelona, the leader of the league with a nine-point lead, against a Real Madrid hungry for a victory to revive the championship.
After the long-suffering victory in San Mamés (0-1), the locals enter the game with a comfortable nine-point lead over the white team, who think only of victory to be six points behind and the dream of the comeback nourishes.
With an atmosphere enhanced by the noise generated by the legalization of the ‘Negreira case’, but without the pressure of other occasions, the men of Xavi Hernández, who as coach will make his first clásico in the Barça fiefdom playing, got used to winning against their eternal rival in 2023.
Two classics have been played this year and they have led to two victories for Barça. The first in a football exhibition in the Spanish Super Cup final (1-3), and the second in a formidable survival exercise (0-1) in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final.
In the third episode of 2023 between the blaugranas and the whites – the fourth of the course – the LaLiga leader arrives with a somewhat empty fuel tank.
With the absence of Pedro González ‘Pedri’, his beacon in midfield, Barça is without light in the engine room. Everything indicated that the canary would come into the call, but the penultimate training ended with bad feelings. The coaching staff of the Barca team does not want to take any chances with one of its mainstays, who suffered an injury to the rectus femoris of the right thigh a month ago.
Without Tegueste’s midfielder in green and an earthy version of Robert Lewandowski, Barça have grown strong at the back. With the best version of Ter Stegen under the crossbar, Xavi’s pupils have conceded just eight goals in 25 games and have signed on to add wins by the minimum.
When Ter Stegen shines in goal, Ronald Araujo has established himself as the undisputed foreman of the defence. The Uruguayan, who returns to the squad after missing the game in San Mamés due to suspension, will be one of the stars of the match. Xavi has found the international ‘charrúa’, who will return, apart from surprise, to occupy the right side, the best antidote to curb Vinicius Júnior’s imbalance. Barça’s last three victories in a classic have coincided with Araujo shadowing the Brazilian winger.
With the confirmed losses of ‘Pedri’ and Ousmane Dembele, it remains to be seen if Xavi is determined to play with four midfielders, with Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong and Pablo Páez Gavira ‘Gavi’ occupying the left wing, or if he dares to play with three points
Real Madrid have no choice but to respond with a victory over the obligation. Victim of his own mistakes, with two defeats and three draws so far this year, and the regularity of his perennial rival, he must extend the Camp Nou winning streak in the League to bring the excitement back to the title fight and not see her sentenced with more than two calendar months yet.
Coming out victorious in his last two league visits at the Camp Nou, he must forget the lack of hunger shown in the Spanish Super Cup classic and the impotence felt in the final game, in the Copa del Rey, when he failed to score a goal. could make. against a Barcelona with casualties of the utmost importance.
It’s his challenge to make a record-drawing keeper like Ter Stegen from another planet terrestrial. Up to 19 clean sheets in 25 days and conceded just one goal at Camp Nou. A challenge for Karim Benzema, who arrives in time to play after overcoming a blow against Liverpool, in a match where he lacked the physical finesse to be decisive despite the winning goal, and of course for the great Real Madrid reference, Vinícius, who enters another battle with Araujo with the desire to free himself from the bonds of marking and be decisive.
For this, Ancelotti has a plan, the mobility of his three offensive players and an offensive approach. That raises doubts about the presence in Fede Valverde’s trident and gives options to the entry of Rodrygo Goes. Although deferring the Uruguayan to midfield would make ‘Carletto’ question whether he should do without one of his pillars, Luka Modric or Toni Kroos, whom he described the day before as ‘the best midfielders in the world’.
With greater physical exhaustion than his rival, due to the Champions League dispute, the idea of repeating Ancelotti’s team flies over, but seems unsustainable. Although everything indicates that he will repeat the defense. Due to the loss of David Alaba and due to Nacho Fernández’s better physical tone than a recently recovered Ferland Mendy for the left side.
In midfield, Eduardo Camavinga would leave his place to Aurélien Tchouaméni, who came on as a substitute in the Champions League and is in full swing to show power at a key position in the coverage of a Real Madrid that will go out for goals and extend the goal of LaLiga’s lifespan.
FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Araujo, Kounde, Christensen, Balde; Busquets, De Jong, Kessie; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Gavi.
Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho; Tchouaméni, Kroos, Modric O Fede Valverde; Rodrygo, Vinicius, Benzema.
Referee: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea (Basque Committee).
Source: El heraldo
I’m George Gonzalez, a professional journalist and author at The Nation View. With more than 5 years of experience in the field, I specialize in covering sports news for various print media outlets. My passion for writing has enabled me to craft stories that capture the attention of readers all over the world.