El Clasico is upon us. In all competitions, Barcelona leads with 96 wins head to head, versus 95 wins for Madrid.
When it comes to La Liga meetings, the world’s biggest two clubs on social media are locked in a dead heat: 72 wins each. Real Madrid have struggled at home to their bitter rivals in recent seasons. Barcelona have won eight of their past 11 visits to the Spanish capital, and another win on Sunday would see them move in front in the head-to-head between the two sides for the first time ever in their history.
In terms of goals scored, golden man Lionel Messi is the record holder, with 26 goals, and two hat-tricks to boot. He is about the break Xavi’s record of 42 appearances in this fixture.
In terms of the record across both teams for appearances, Madrid’s brawler and red card specialist, Sergio Ramos, leads with 43.
Real Madrid go into this El Clasico having not won in 7 league meetings: should they not win in 6 hours time, this will be their worst ever streak in El Clasico history without a win against their arch-nemesis.
On current form, Madrid need this win more than Barca. They are in clear and present danger of ending this season without any silverware: out of the Copa Del Rey, trailing Barcelona in La Liga, trailing Manchester City by a goal in the away return leg of the pre-quarter finals.
The Catalans are two points ahead in the league, and enter this game on a 4 match unbeaten streak. Zidane’s boys, in contrast, have played their last 3 games without a win.
Barcelona’s manager Quique Setien is the only manager who has beaten Zidane twice in La Liga, though those wins came with Real Betis. It remains to be seen if this mid-season manager, the first such Barcelona has had in 17 seasons, can navigate his superstar charges to the La Liga title. Barcelona are on a 7 match unbeaten run in this fixture: the record is 8, set by Madrid from March 2001- Dec 2003.
Just like you are either Republican or Democrat, tea or coffee, you are either for Madrid or Barca. You must choose. Currently, the two teams are showing less than stellar form in the UEFA Champion’s League.
This fixture has lost some of its lustre after Ronaldo departed for Italy, and a significant number of players on both teams are ageing, over 30 years old. But this remains one of the great gladiatorial contests in world football, and it will be watched by more then 100 million people around the world. It promises to be a tense, fractious affair, whatever the outcome.