Match Preview: Real Madrid vs Barcelona – 2021/22

By: Mohammed Sahel

Real Madrid and Football Club Barcelona renew their rivalry in the latest version of El Clásico. The Bernabéu hosts a league game between the two colossi of Spanish football for the first time since early March in 2020 with both teams having gone through periods of massive transition since that memorable 2-0 win for the hosts.

On one hand, Xavi’s Barça are as fierce as they get this season. Too hot to handle really at the moment. Unbeaten in ten games (since the CDR exit at the hands of Bilbao), pillared by the heroics of a combination of youthful talent and experienced personal in their ranks. 

On the other, Real Madrid. Fresh from a night that will be etched in their Champions League history, maintaining solid form in the league and with a good shot at getting one over their rivals, potentially knocking them a step back in the race for top three, for which the Catalans compete with Atlético.

What to Expect: 

Real Madrid’s rivals come here, as aforementioned — in fine form. Their most recent win came versus Galatasaray in the Europa league. While relegation to Europe’s second tier competition itself isn’t something to be very proud of for a club the size of Barça, their performances since the Champions League exit have been precisely what president Laporta would’ve hoped for when overviewing the arrival of Xavi Hernandez.

Things weren’t so good in the beginning for the Spaniard, and the team was in shambles following the Champions League defeat. They reeled 7th in the table and far from competing for any sort of silverware. Following the Supercopa exit in January, then the CDR disappointment the month later, they have proven their resilience under a new manager.

Now, they lie fourth in LaLiga with two very big games in hand over Atlético Madrid. Their turn of fortunes since Xavi’s arrival has coincided with the team’s top young talent rising to the occasion. The likes of Alves, Aubameyang and Adama Traore are few of the club’s crucial acquisitions in what is a period of crisis. Fair to say, none of them have been underwhelming. 

One should foresee Barcelona running riot in midfield. The likes of Pedri and De Jong are more confident and clear minded on the ball than ever. With someone as experienced as Sergio Busquets to accompany the pair, they will almost certainly cause problems to Real Madrid’s midfield three (or four?). Veteran Dani Alves has been more than impressive in league games for someone his age. He fills in gaps in midfield on occasion while Jordi Alba’s threat down the left flank can never be ignored. 

These past few weeks has seen a prolific and polished version of Barcelona, one that’s been able to turn big performances into big wins. With their struggles well beyond them, tonight’s Clasico will come as a final of sorts. For Real Madrid, going into the game without Karim Benzema has to be one of the few difficulties Ancelotti’s side faces. Destiny however, is much more than current form and availability of players. This is perhaps Madrid’s best opportunity to cement their position at the helm of LaLiga Santander.

Team News: 

Ansu Fati, Samuel Umtiti and Sergino Dest were confirmed to be injured ahead of tonight’s fixture. Gérard Pique nurses an injury from last week’s Europa league game but is expected to make it back to the starting eleven for today’s game, partnering the ever-so-solid Ronald Araujo in central defence.

Karim Benzema’s absence is Madrid’s biggest concern, and most likely the biggest talking point heading into tonight’s game. Carlo Ancelotti was quoted saying “I have Mariano, Bale, Jovic and Isco available (Hazard isn’t even considered), I’ve picked the best option for tomorrow’s game.” 

Nacho Fernandez will play left-back in Ferland Mendy’s absence. Reports from Spain suggest he might wear the armband too, but nothing has been confirmed since. The coach might consider Federico Valverde as a fourth midfielder to add pace and directness to Los Blancos’ play but that’s an option he’s still unlikely to opt for. Apart from the changes he’s forced to make, it’s unlikely any other alterations are as such — necessary.

Expected Line-ups: 

Real Madrid:


Carvajal — Militão — Alaba — Nacho

Modrić — Casemiro — Kroos

Asensio — Mariano — Vinícius

FC Barcelona:

Ter Stegen

Alves — Araujo — Pique — Alba

De Jong — Busquets — Pedri

Adama — Aubameyang — Ferran

Player to Watch: 

Real Madrid: Vinícius Júnior. With Benzema out for the foreseeable future, this is Vini’s chance to shine outside the shadows of his French mentor. It is no secret that the two operate best together but for Vinicius to conquer the stage alone would be something very special indeed. Maybe it’s too much to ask for from someone so young but the quality is there for the world to see.

Barcelona: Pedri. Most people know of Pedri, as a skillful, energetic, creative midfielder who rose through the ranks at Las Palmas. Just how skillful the Spaniard is, is something he’s been portraying for sometime now. With Xavi’s confidence to back him up, Pedri’s integration into the first team has been seamless. Add Gavi to the equation, and suddenly Real Madrid have two perfectly capable young midfielders to deal with.


Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona.

Our rival’s form is a clear indication of their expertise and more crucially, their mentality at this stage of the season. They really have nothing to lose and even in front of a packed Bernabéu in high spirits from last week’s win, I say they play a great game tonight. Without Karim Benzema, Madrid’s worries double themselves.

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