The previous El Clásico between the Spanish La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid had to be postponed because of civil unrest at Catalonia, but this time it might be the clubs willing to postpone in order to get their acts straight after a disappointing week.
The game is set to be played on Sunday the first of March at Real Madrid’s home stadium Santiago Bernabeu. Both clubs struggled in their first fixtures of Champions League 1st knockout stage. Barcelona produced pretty much nothing at all on the road against Napoli, but managed to pull a rabbit out of their hat by Antoine Griezmann’s equalizer. The final score of 1-1 was not a disaster, but the overall performance left a lot to be desired for. Real Madrid didn’t have it any easier in the hands of visiting Manchester City. Having led the comfortably 1-0, Real squandered their chances and City took the spoils with 1-2 road win, making it a mountain to climb for Real at Etihad.
Barcelona’s issues are well documented, as they let a plethora of players leave during January and then got struck by injuries. The latest victims, reportedly, is the backbone of the Catalan central defense, Gerard Pique, who had to be taken off in the closing minutes in Napoli. Arturo Vidal received a red card and will be gone from the next leg, but is likely available for the Clásico – if Quique Setién deems him capable of keeping his cool. There are not many options, though, even with the emergency acquisition of journeyman striker Martin Braithwaite. Arriving from Leganes, the Danish striker is not exactly the world class player El Clásico has usually seen.
Real Madrid already stumbled last weekend in La Liga, losing embarrassingly to Levante 1-0 after drawing 2-2 with Celta Vigo the previous weekend. Real’s solid grasp of La Liga title has now changed to three-point deficit against their rivals, making the Clásico so far the most important game of the season. While Barcelona is having their own issues with lack of proven players and production, Real’s issues seem to be between the ears of the players. They’ve constantly squandered games they should’ve easily killed off and shot themselves in the foot. But at least they should have enough players to compete in La Liga’s most precious matchup.