It’s time for another chapter of the world’s greatest rivalry with the second El Clasico of the season when Barcelona visits Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago bernabéu today by 21:00(CET).
Barcelona had a fantastic outing in last weekend laliga thrashing Eibar by 5-0 at camp nou, four goals courtesy of Lionel Messi and another from Arturo Vidal combined with Real Madrid 1-0 loss at Levante last weekend.
Quique setien’s sides moved to the top of the table with 2 points margin over their bitter rival.
The Catalans overtook Real Madrid for the all-time goal scores in LaLiga with 6,151 as against Real 6,150 goals.
With just one win coming from their last five in all competitions, which includes defeats in the Copa del Rey to Real Sociedad and 2-1 loss to Manchester City in the Champions League, Zidane has come under further scrutiny from a demanding fanbase.
When taking the manner of their setback against Manchester City into consideration, Zidane will feel that Sunday’s showdown has come at the perfect time for his players to prove their worth.
At the pre-match conference, Zinedine Zidane said “it is a delicate moment because we have not won in our stadium for three games now,”
“But those that know football know that these things can happen.
“Everyone can criticize and this is what the media do. we lost two games and I am going to get criticized.
Karim Benzema has 18 goals to his name for the season, but the experienced Frenchman has now gone five games without finding the back of the net.
The fact that Real has struggled since the 32-year-old’s dropoff putting the pressure on his teammates to step up with Eden Hazard seemingly out until the summer through injury.
Just like his counterpart in the dugouts, Quique Setien felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders when replacing Ernesto Valverde as Barcelona manager in the middle of January.
However, after an indifferent start to life at Camp Nou, Setien has witnessed Barca record three successive wins in LaLiga, a streak which has taken the club back into first place.
Their unbeaten run was extended on Tuesday night with a 1-1 draw away at Napoli in the Champions League last round of 16, giving the Catalan giants in a position to take advantage in next month’s reverse fixture.
There will be those who still have reservations about the former Real Betis man taking charge of his first El classico, but the 61-year-old deserves plenty of credit for improving results when having to contend with numerous selection issues.
Although the arrival of Martin Braithwaite has boosted numbers in the final third, Setien is having to manage the workload of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.
The pair have netted six of Barcelona’s last eight goals, strengthening the argument that the club could miss out on silverware this season should either man join Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez in the treatment room.
A win over their great rivals will change the mood at the Bernabeu, a second successive loss in LaLiga will leave Barcelona five points clear with just 12 matches left in laliga to round up the season.
Messi has not scored in any of last season four Clasico and, with the league title at stake, goes to Madrid aiming for all three points.
The Catalans lead in wins at bernabéu from the head to head statistics with 7 wins, 2 draws and a single draw through the last decade.