On 22 March, Barcelona and Real Madrid gear up for another eagerly anticipated El Clasico. But who looks set to come out of that clash at the Camp Nou as winners?
The first Clasico, played on October 25, Real Madrid came back from a goal behind to emerge 3-1 winners at the Santiago Bernabeu, which raised morale within their team and allowed them to continue their winning streak, which extended to 22 matches.
Barcelona, meanwhile, looked like a defeated team and fell off their place at the top of La Liga, having concede their first goals in the league in the 2014/15 season. However, since the New Year, Luis Enrique’s men look like a completely different outfit. Whereas, 2014 was Cristiano Ronaldo’s year, 2015 is certainly looking like it will be Lionel Messi’s. The four point lead Real Madrid accumulated by the end of December has been cut down to just one, following their losses to Valencia and Atletico Madrid since the New Year.
Barcelona are currently on an 11 match winning streak. Their attack is firing on all cylinders and last weekend, Lionel Messi overtook Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the European Golden Boot.
However, while Carlo Ancelotti admits that his team have lacked intensity in recent matches, particularly in the 4-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid, he has once again turned the corner with his team and brought about an upbeat spirit to the team.
Just before the 22 match winning streak, Spanish-based media were calling the situation at the Bernabeu a “crisis”. Encouraging signs from the matches against Deportivo and Schalke could imply that Madrid are ready to return to peak form. Not to mention, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez and Sergio Ramos are all expected to return from injury in time for the big showdown.
Nonetheless, Luis Enrique has brought about a fresh approach at Barcelona, which has allowed his team to thrive in counter-attacking movements. This kind of play defined the outcome of the last meeting between the teams. The fast-paced attacking movements and set-piece threats could prove to be a real test for Real Madrid’s questionable defence.
Gone are the days where Barcelona kept the majority of possession and Real Madrid relied on counter-attacking movements to make an effect. In essence, those were the days of Mourinho against Guardiola. Now, a new era, fronted by Luis Enrique and Carlo Ancelotti, who enjoys employing a possession-based style, has begun and we may see both teams completely switch roles in the encounter.
One thing is for sure, however. The Cam Nou will provide a hot atmosphere for yet another epic clash. Spain and the entire footballing world will come to a standstill and bear witness to what promises to be one of the most exciting Clasicos yet. With little over a month to go until the game, the next few matches for both teams will prove pivotal in what will likely decide this season’s race for the La Liga title.
Who do you think are the favourites for next month’s Clasico? Have your say in the comments section below.