The greatest soccer rivalry is here again this weekend as the Madridistas of Real Madrid will visit the Blaugranas of Barcelona at Camp Nou. This will be the second and final meeting of the La Liga 2017-18 season.
The last time these two heavyweights met was on December 23, 2017 in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. It had the appearance of another classic as it was a hard-nosed match up in the first half. However, Barcelona methodically beat their rivals in the second half, finding the net three times. This included a penalty after Madrid received a red card and were handicapped to just 10 men. The home team in Madrid looked completely out of sync and had the illusory image of the better team.
This time around, both of these teams look extremely distinctive. Barcelona looked like a squad heading for every trophy in Europe. They were shocked when Italian Club soccer team Roma eliminated them in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League. They were unable to proceed past this stage for the past three years. On the bright side, Barcelona are the Copa Del Rey and La Liga champions of the season. Despite the success it begs the question being: Was this season a success or failure for Barcelona under new manager Ernesto Valverde.
On the other hand, Madrid has successfully made it to their third straight champions league final and will look to win making their run a three peat. They have nothing else to play for as they had no chance at capturing La Liga and were eliminated in the Copa Del Rey. This is the last title opportunity that Cristiano Ronaldo and company will have at a title for 2018.
For the game itself, it is El Clasico and you can bet everyone will be watching even if it does not have a significant meaning except for bragging rights. In La Liga history, Real Madrid has the slight edge over Barcelona playing them in a total of 174 matches with Madrid winning 72 to Barcelona’s 70 games including 33 draws.
There has been much chatter about this game between defenders to midfielders. Central defender for Real Madrid Sergio Ramos was asked about Barcelona capturing the La Liga title and if Madrid will honor them this Sunday and he responds “No guard of honor for Barcelona, full stop.” Ramos and manager Zinedine Zidane have made it clear that they will not honor Barcelona for their title and for them to move on.
To add more to the fire, superstar Lionel Messi after winning the title this past weekend lays out a quote saying, ” We were far superior to all our rivals.” Although to some degree that this can be true, this only makes Sunday that much better. Barcelona have won the title indeed, but will need to put the cherry on top of a unbeaten season by beating their rivals on home field territory.
We can expect a physical matchup by two of soccer’s best clubs and usually if the first matchup disappoints then the second one will always be a memory. There will be some goal scoring in this matchup as both defenses have been subpar ,but it will be tough to say who comes out on top. It could possibly end in a 2-2 draw making both sides satisfied.