It is time for one of the biggest matches in world football as arch-rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona get set to play the much-awaited 'El Clasico' tonight. The contest will be played at Madrid's home ground for this season, the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano stadium. With two of the leading goal-scorers this season in the form of Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema facing each other, it is going to be a thrilling game of football. Here is everything you need to know about the crucial match:
Why is this match important?
With two of the biggest clubs in Spain, they have often battled it out against each other to claim the ultimate glory. While there are always bragging rights on offer, tonight's match is much more than that. Chasing the Laliga title with 9 games remaining, Barcelona are currently on 65 points with Real Madrid on 63 points. Atletico Madrid currently top the table with 66 points to their name. With all the three clubs in the race, tonight's match becomes all-so important for moving a step ahead towards the title.
There have been 245 competitive 'El Clasico' matches across all competitions from 1929 till date. There is hardly anything to choose between the two sides as Real Madrid have won 97 contests while Barcelona emerged victorious in 96 matches. The other 52 clashes have ended in a draw.
In the last meeting between the two sides in Laliga, it was the Los Blancos who clinched an emphatic 3-1 victory in October 2020. Federico Valverde, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric were on the score-sheet as Ansu Fati scored the consolation goal for Barcelona. However, the Catalans have bounced back since the defeat and have won their last 9 away matches in the competition coming to this contest.
Players to watch out for?
Real Madrid - Vinicius Junior
The 20-year-old winger was at his absolute best against Liverpool in the champions league mid-week. Vinicius scored two brilliant goals, completely dominating Trent Alexander Arnold down the left flank. He will be up against Sergio Dest in this match and it will be really interesting to see who comes out on top in this battle.
Barcelona - Ousmane Dembele
The 23-old-old winger is finally unleashing his full potential at the club after a long wait. Having recovered from his injuries, Dembele is looking a completely different player this season. He is coming to this contest on the back of scoring a stoppage-time winner against Valladolid and must be raring with confidence.
Probable playing XI for both teams?
Zidane's side will be without many of their key players in the form of Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane and Eden Hazard. However, they are coming to this contest on the back of an impressive win over Liverpool and might go with a similar-looking team that turned up in Champions League mid-week.
Real Madrid's probable line-up (4-3-3): Courtois; Vazquez, Militao, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
Barcelona, on the other hand, have also been in sensation form off-late. They have started to play some impressive football under Ronald Koeman's 3-man defence system and are expected to follow the same against Madrid. Star duo of Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto, who have also returned to the squad for this important clash might start from the bench while Griezmann might also miss out.
Barcelona's probable line-up (3-5-2): ter Stegen; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet; Dest, de Jong, Busquets, Pedri, Alba; Messi, Dembele
Where to watch the 'El Clasico'?
The coverage of the contest between Real Madrid and Barcelona will begin from 12:30 AM IST onwards. While there won't be any coverage of the 'El Clasico' on TV in India, the fans can watch the live streaming on Laliga's official Facebook account.