PREVIEW: Barcelona v Real Madrid

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It’s El Clasico weekend and once again Real Madrid’s clash with Barcelona has a huge bearing on La Liga’s title race.

Los Blancos enjoyed a fantastic midweek, as they dismantled Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals with a 3-1 win, and come into this game knowing a win could pull them level on points with table topping rivals Atletico.

Barcelona, on the other hand, have had a few days to put their feet up – owing to their Champions League exit at the hands of PSG in March – and they lay just a point behind Diego Simeone’s side after a last gasp Ousmane Dembele goal saw off Real Valladolid.

Sadly, there will not be any fans in attendance for the biggest game in club football, but it should be a fantastic spectacle nevertheless. Here’s 90min’s preview of the game.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane was hit with the news that Raphael Varane had tested positive for COVID-19 on the morning of the Liverpool game, meaning the French defender will miss El Clasico. Sergio Ramos is also ruled out with a calf injury.

Right back Dani Carvajal is also out injured, but Eden Hazard is training again and could return to the bench. Madrid could lineup with the same team as they did against Liverpool in midweek, simply because they’re short on options.

The Catalan giants are likely to be without their own star defender, Gerard Pique, who is still suffering from a knee issue. That means Oscar Mingueza should continue in their 3-4-3 system which has brought them plenty of success and balance in recent weeks.

Lionel Messi will continue in attack after his streak of either scoring or assisting in every league game in 2021 came to an end against Valladolid, and he would likely be partnered by Antoine Griezmann, who has just welcomed a third child to be born on April 8. Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati remain long-term absentees.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona predicted lineups

Real Madrid: Courtois; Vazquez, Militao, Nacho, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Lenglet, De Jong; Dest, Busquets, Pedri, Alba; Dembele, Messi, Griezmann

El Clasico prediction

The world will again be watching as both teams look to usurp Atletico at the top of the table, continuing one of the most captivating title races in years.

Both teams are expected to attack, given the weakness of each defence, and it’ll be interesting to see whether Ronald Koeman’s 3-4-3 system continues to get the best out of his front three.

Madrid have only lost two Clasico’s under Zinedine Zidane’s guidance and the 3-1 win at Camp Nou earlier this season will be on the minds of both teams.

Ultimately, three points is the only acceptable outcome for both sides – which could, inevitably, lead to a draw, hopefully of the entertaining variety.

Prediction: Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona

By 90min

Edited by Tiyani wa ka Mabasa

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