FC Barcelona, league leaders, welcome arch-rivals Real Madrid, who currently sit behind the Catalans in second position, to the Spotify Camp Nou to partake in an El Clasico fixture that is expected to be a potential title-decider as well as a catalyst for the momentum of both teams.
Date: Sunday, 19th March 2023
Competition: La Liga Santander
Venue: Spotify Camp Nou
Time: 09:00 pm Central European Time
Referee: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea
In what will be the second and final El Clasico of the 2022/2023 La Liga campaign, the stakes could not be any higher for either side. Despite the seemingly huge 9-point cushion Barcelona currently sit upon, the tides that may turn as a result of this El Clasico fixture could be momentous.
The Catalans expect a number of difficult upcoming fixtures following this game, and thus cannot under any circumstances afford to loosen their grip and advantage at this pivotal point of the season.
In terms of form, FC Barcelona had to dig themselves out of a steep decline in results following their defeats to Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League and Almeria in La Liga Santander, but their results following those games have all been victories, despite the rather unconvincing displays to achieve them.
One of those victories came against this very opponent that they are preparing to face, Real Madrid, a 1-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Copa Del Ray Semi-final’s first leg despite having a rather depleted squad in terms of key players.
3 wins and 2 losses in all competitions in their last 5 games, their overall form in the league specifically has been much improved, however. 4 wins and 1 loss in the last 5 games, despite the 1-0 scrappy victories, displays a team with character and stubbornness, both extremely vital traits when it comes to teams that end up as champions come the end of a season.
In the case of rivals Real Madrid, Los Blancos have been cruising through Europe. Dispatching English side Liverpool with an aggregate score of 6-2 in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League, they have faced a bit more issues when it comes to league fixtures however.
With 3 wins and 2 draws from their last 5 league games, they have afforded FC Barcelona a handful of chances to extend their lead at the top despite the Catalans slipping up unexpectedly against Almeria.
Both sides have been the most dominant in La Liga when it comes to scoring past opposition defenses. Real Madrid top that statistic with 50 goals scored across their La Liga season thus far, with FC Barcelona just behind with 47 goals scored.
In terms of defensive statistics, however, La Blaugrana have been beyond amazing. Conceding only 8 goals thus far in the league despite having played 25 games, and breaking multiple defensive records in the process, they are an absolute fortress to break down. Madrid’s defensive statistics showcase them having conceded 19 goals thus far, which is the second-best tally in the league alongside that of Atletico Madrid at the time of writing.
This clash between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will undoubtedly decide and influence both teams going forward, and whereas a win would be ideal, the Catalans are in a position where even a draw would be good for them on the basis of their already secured 9-point gap.
Given the unavailability of both Pedri and Ousmane Dembele for this fixture, a display similar to that of the 1-0 win at the Bernabeu recently seems like a probable expectation to have. Yet Robert Lewandowski and Andreas Christensen will be present this time around, having missed out on the last El Clasico, and should give Xavi Hernandez more firepower and defensive rigidity to rely upon come the visit from Real Madrid.