Los Merengues are gearing up for La Liga’s blockbuster fixture when they meet Barcelona in Spain’s most hotly anticipated fixture
These two titans have been going at it for over 100 years, with the first meeting between the two back in May 1902—a 3-1 victory for Barca on that occasion.
In terms of competitive results in the fixture, there’s nothing to separate them; of the 244 competitive meetings between them, each of the duo have 96 victories each.
Will one of the two edge ahead of the other when they meet in Saturday’s showdown, or will another draw be on the cards between these two old foe.
It’s a match-up that, given the scale and the stakes, is impossible to miss, but in terms of the talent on show as well, it has the potential to be a technical masterpiece.
Old warrior Sergio Ramos holds the record for appearances in the match-up—with 44—but all eyes will be on his long-term nemesis, Lionel Messi, who has scored 26 goals in this fixture over the years (also a record).
This Clasico will also be a unique event.
It’s the first since March 1 2020—before the coronavirus pandemic brought football to a standstill—but of course, we still live with the consequences of the illness, and as such, it will be the first Clasico to be played behind closed doors.
Barca legend Samuel Eto’o told Goal about his expectations for the first ever Clasico without fans.
“Such a wonderful pitch, without the fans it’s going to be a little bit strange,” Eto’o said at the La Liga presentation Gala.
“This is a unique game and I am sure the players will do their best to do something dramatic on the pitch.”
Both sides can take some succour from the statistics.
In the last two Clasicos, Barca have failed to find the net, although they may be encouraged by the fact that they haven’t gone without scoring for three matches against their old rivals since 1958.
It was a barren run that they will not be keen to emulate!
If they net one more goal, it will be the 400th scored by Barcelona in the fixture, although Real are unbeaten in the last two Clasicos, keeping a clean sheet in both, so they will be confident that they can keep the Catalan heavyweights at bay.
Real have one very tangible target in their sights as well; having defeated Barca at the Bernabeu in March, another victory this weekend would represent the first time in 12 years—since 2008—that they’ve won consecutive league games against their old foe.
Real will be desperate to avoid defeat which, apart from handing national bragging rights to their rivals—and giving them a boost in the title race, would represent the first time they’ve lost back-to-back league games since May 2019.
Their shock 1-0 defeat by Cadiz last time out was a low moment for Zinedine Zidane and his troops, but he has at least demonstrated that he knows how to silence Messi on the big occasion.
While the Argentine maestro has 26 goals on the big occasion, they’ve dried up somewhat recently.
He’s without a goal in the last 425 minutes of Clasico action—the second worst drought he’s ever experienced in the fixture—and it seems like Zizou has devised a plan to silence Barca’s star man.