Tag Archives: El clasico

Things You may have missed in Madrid’s El Clasico Victory

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Real Madrid came out on top in the first Clasico of the 2020/21 season in LaLiga Santander. Goals from Fede Valverde, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric secured all three points for the visitors at the Camp Nou, while Ansu Fati had equalised for Barcelona.


We’ve collated some images you may have missed from the match, including Jordi Alba’s recognition of Lionel Messi, Ronald Koeman’s reaction to Real Madrid’s penalty, confusion on the visiting bench and the outside of the foot finish by Modric.


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Segino Dest not happy with Barca’s Clasico defeat

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Sergino Dest participated in his first ever Clasico against Real Madrid on Saturday afternoon, but he left the pitch frustrated after Barcelona’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Los Blancos. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid had chances to grab the victory, but while the home side lacked the clinical touch, Los Blancos managed to net three goals and grab all three points at the Camp Nou.


“It was a really tough match,” Dest said. “We had chances, they had chances, and it’s just too bad that we lost. “It’s my first El Clasico and I’m just pi**ed that we lost. “They were maybe a little bit sharper in the chances. They finished them and we didn’t. “We have another game on Wednesday against Juventus [in the Champions League] and we have to win that one and get the team spirit back.”

Ronald Koeman placed Dest in his natural position at right-back and the Dutchman put together a decent performance, both defensively and in attack. Asked where he prefers to play, he stressed that he can feature wherever he is needed.”I feel a little more comfortable on the right, but if I have to play on the left, that’s no problem for me,” Dest stated.


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‘We deserved the win and we win it’s – Courtios on Madrid win

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Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-1 at the Camp Nou following two consecutive defeats at the hands of Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk, and Thibaut Courtois has stressed that he and his team-mates should do their best regardless of who they play against. The Belgian put in another solid performance, making some great saves to help Real Madrid secure all three points at the Camp Nou and extend the gap between the two clubs in LaLiga Santander to six points.


“This shirt and badge deserve to be fought for and valued in every game,” Courtois said after the match against Barcelona. “Today we did it because we came from two difficult and bad games. Today we put in a lot of desire and ran a lot. “It was not an easy week. In the game against Cadiz we did not start well and it was difficult. We did not do our best. “And against Shakhtar we were good until we conceded the goals. Then in the second half we put in our will and courage. Today we played a good match.”

Fede Valverde gave Real Madrid the lead but after Ansu Fati’s equaliser, Los Blancos managed to react, Ramos giving them back the lead in the second half. Courtois noted that the team should be content about the result but focus on the upcoming Champions League match against Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday. “We scored a goal, which was what we wanted,” Courtois added. “Then they equalised, with [Jordi] Alba’s strength and wide runs.

“The game was even; I made a good save and Neto [did] too. There were great chances in the second half. We scored the penalty and then we were able to score the third before, but Neto made some good saves. “This victory fills us with confidence after two games in which people could doubt us. The key when things go a little bad is to stay together. “Now we don’t have to be very excited. We have to be happy but think about the Tuesday [game against Borussia Monchengladbach].”


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Furious Koeman can’t explain how he feels after El Clasico’s defeat

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Barcelona reacted furiously to the VAR decision that cost them the Clasico with Ronald Koeman accusing the video assistant referee system of only giving decisions against them. One club director went further abusing the referee on social media.


Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-1 at the Nou Camp but the game turned in the second half when Sergio Ramos had his shirt pulled by Clement Lenglet and VAR prompted the referee to check the incident pitchside.

Koeman told Barca TV: ‘Every decision goes against us. In five games there have been none in our favour. There was the [Leo] Messi penalty against Sevilla that was not given and the red card against Getafe. Today’s penalty is just something that happens in the area.’

Lenglet’s tug on Ramos’ shirt convinced Juan Martinez to point to the spot and the Real Madrid captain scored the penalty to put his side 2-1 ahead.

Koeman added: ‘I don’t think it’s a penalty. VAR in Spain only acts against Barcelona.’

Betis fans were also furious with the decision because their striker Toni Sanabria was involved in an identical situation a week early and no penalty was given.

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One Barcelona director went even further and had to apologise online. Xavi Vilajoana, who is director at the club of women’s football and Barcelona B tweeted: ‘This is a f*** scandal. Munuera f off.’

He later tweeted apologising if he ‘had offended anyone’ with the message.

Barcelona full-back Sergino Dest preferred to concentrate on the team’s failure to take their chances post-match. He said: ‘I don’t know if it was a penalty. They had chances and we had chances but they were maybe a bit sharper in their finishing.’

Real Madrid were just happy to end a run of two straight defeats. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said: ‘It was not easy playing against Cadiz last weekend after the international break and conceding an early goal we could not get back into the game. We then had a hard game facing Shakhtar in Europe.

‘But here we had the intensity that the manager wanted from us. It was a bit back and forth in the second half but we got the penalty and we held out for the win.

‘We have to fight in each game when we wear this shirt. Today we did that. This is only three points but it gives us an awful lot of confidence.


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Real Madrid now leads the Clasico history

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Over recent years, Barcelona have equaled and even surpassed Real Madrid in number of victories in Clásicos across all competitions but find themselves behind.


The first Clásico of the 2020/21 LaLiga between Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou went the way of the visitors in a very entertaining affair. It was the 245th match that the two Spanish giants had played against each other, with both teams fighting for the top spot of the domestic tournament.

In their previous meeting Los Blancos beat the Catalan side back in March, in a season that ended up with Real Madrid winning the championship.

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The Clásicos: the head to head
As well as the 254 competitive games, Barça and Madrid have met another 34 times in friendlies and other exhibition matches.

Their overall head-to-head record has been extremely tight. Real’s latest win bputs them one ahead of Barça with 97 wins vs 96.

Games played: 182

Madrid wins: 74

Barça wins: 72

Draws: 36

Games played: 36

Madrid wins: 12

Barça wins: 16

Draws: 8

Games played: 8

Madrid wins: 3

Barça wins: 2

Draws: 3

Games played: 20

Madrid wins: 8

Barça wins: 6

Draws: 6

Games played: 245

Madrid wins: 97

Barça wins: 96

Draws: 52

The Guardiola era, a ‘Real’ boost for Barça
Madrid had a notable advantage over Barcelona at the beginning of the 2000s, but the arrival of Pep Guardiola to the Barcelona bench turned the situation around.

In La Liga, Barça have won 13 of the Clasicos played since Guardiola’s appointment, drawing four and losing four. They also won the 2010-11 Champions League semi-final, (0-2 at Santiago Bernabéu, 1-1 at Camp Nou).

Barcelona, Real Madrid… and the trophies
The debate over which is the most decorated club in Spanish football continues and will probably remain in the conversation for a long time.

Real Madrid have a total of 119 trophy wins over their history in all competitions (includes regional, national, continental and global), while Barcelona have gathered 129 titles.

Los Merengues dominate in main competitions, with 34 Spanish leagues and 11 European Cups; Barcelona have a higher number of total trophies.

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  • Real Madrid (23): 18 Championships of Madrid and 5 Mancomunado Trophies.
  • Barcelona (33): 23 Catalonian Championships and 10 Catalonian Cups (8 Cups and 2 Super Cups).
  • Real Madrid (65): 34 leagues, 19 Cups, 11 Spanish Super Cups, 1 League Cup and 1 Copa Eva Duarte.
  • Barcelona (74): 26 leagues, 30 Cups, 12 Spanish Super Cups, 2 League Cups and 1 Copa Eva Duarte.
  • Real Madrid (21): 13 European Cups (6 European Cups and 7 Champions Leagues), 2 UEFA Cups (forerunner of the Europa League), 4 European Super Cups and 2 Latin Cups.
  • Barcelona (19): 5 European Cups (1 European Cup and 4 Champions Leagues), 4 Cup Winners’ Cups, 5 European Super Cups, 3 Fairs Cups (forerunner of the UEFA Cup), and 2 Latin Cups (which laid the ground for the European Cup).
  • Real Madrid (10): 4 Club World Cups, 1 Ibero-American Cup, 3 Intercontinental Cups and 2 Small World Cups.
  • Barcelona (3): 3 Club World Cups.

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Cool El Clasico’s Morning; Managers observing from sideline

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Zinedine Zidane and Ronald Koeman have been the subject of a study by the company ‘Comunicar es Ganar’, which looks at their behaviour when speaking in public. The study, called ‘El Clasico, reading between the lines’, has analysed over 30 press conferences that either coach has undergone since the start of the season.


The goal of the study is to see how both coaches go about their jobs with their respective clubs, especially ahead of Saturday’s Clasico at the Camp Nou.

According to the study, Zidane adopts a simpler, more natural tone during his press conferences. He doesn’t like making big statements regarding his team’s objectives and that means there is no pressure on his players.

As for Koeman, he’s shown a clear contrast to Quique Setien when he was appointed Barcelona boss. While the Spaniard was all smiles, the Dutchman is more reserved and direct in how he speaks. He knows the position the club is in at the moment.

Aside from Zidane and Koeman themselves, ‘El Clasico, reading between the lines’ has also looked at the impact an online format has made on press conferences during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the study, coaches are more inclined to use direct and concise answers than before.


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Barcelona’s Pedri, in his first clasico sets to revenge Madrid rejecting him years back

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Playing in the El Clasico is a dream for any young Barcelona fan. For 17-year-old wonderkid Pedri, it will be a chance to put one over the club who rejected him two years ago.


The highly-rated attacker netted his first Barcelona goal in their Champions League win over Ferencvaros in midweek and is expected to be the Catalans’ secret weapon ahead of their blockbuster derby clash at the weekend.

Though things could have turned out very differently for the teenager, who turned up at Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground in February 2018 for a trial in the middle of a snowstorm.

The poor weather conditions meant that Madrid had to close their training ground, even for the first team ahead of an important Champions League knockout tie against Paris Saint-Germain the following week.

When Pedri finally got his chance to play in front of the Los Blancos coaches, the pitch conditions were poor due to the snow and the then-15-year-old was given the cold shoulder.

Speaking about his Real Madrid audition, Pedri told AS earlier this year: ‘I went there for a trial. I was there for a week, but they told me to keep working, that I wasn’t the kind of player they were looking for.’

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If he ends up finding the net in El Clasico this Saturday afternoon, the Real Madrid hierarchy may end up regretting that decision.

The Madrid rejection only spurred the teenager from the Canary Islands on to great things.

A year later, the midfielder was promoted from the Las Palmas youth academy into the first team by manager Pepe Mel, who used to coach West Brom.

Just a fortnight after making his professional debut in the Spanish second tier, Barcelona had seen enough. A £4.5million transfer was agreed in September 2019 which would see the player move to the Nou Camp the following summer.

It felt like a move long in the making. Pedri’s father used to show him footage of ex-Barcelona man Michael Laudrup and encouraged him to copy his movements and passing during his development.

Yet despite the pressure from his father, the young midfielder has identified another Barcelona legend as his personal muse.

He told Spanish news outlet EFE last year: ‘I have that Barca DNA. My desire is to resemble Andres Iniesta.

‘I have always said he is my idol and he’ll remain that until I die.’

Just like at Las Palmas, the 17-year-old has been fast-tracked straight into Ronald Koeman’s first-team set-up since joining the Catalans in July.

Pedri has appeared in every single Barcelona league match so far this season, making his first start for the club in the 1-0 defeat by Getafe last weekend.

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And the youngster’s goal was very Iniesta-like, a first-time snapshot from inside the penalty area which opposition goalkeeper Denes Dibusz failed to keep out.

The Hungarian side could be slightly forgiven for not taking Pedri seriously pre-match as the youngster turned up to the Nou Camp on Tuesday night with his kit in a plastic bag from a local supermarket.

After scoring in Europe’s premier club competition, Pedri then had to order a taxi to take him home as he is not old enough to gain his Spanish driving licence.

Given the small transfer price paid by Barcelona to acquire him last year, it is the attacking signing that the Catalans needed after years of financial mismanagement in the market.

Forward players such as Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann have all moved to Barcelona for extortionate fees which have not been paid back yet on the pitch.

If 17-year-old Pedri can join the likes of childhood heroes Laudrup and Iniesta in helping Barcelona to victory over Real Madrid this weekend, then Barcelona will feel they have the bargain of the season.


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‘If we stay United, Barca can’t stand us’ – Courtois

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Thibaut Courtois remains ambitious about Real Madrid’s chances to having a successful season in terms of silverware. Los Blancos go into Saturday’s Clasico off the back of successive defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk.


After those losses – Real Madrid’s first of the season – many have questioned whether Zinedine Zidane’s sidecan compete in all competitions like they did during his first spell in charge.

“I think that when you play for Real Madrid then the objective for very title that is in play is to go all the way and try to win it,” Courtois told LaLiga. “That’s what makes this the best team and greatest team in the world. We know this and try to win everything that comes up along the way. If the team is united, it’s very difficult to beat us.

“I want to win as much as possible at Real Madrid and try to keep helping the team, to keep this up. I try to improve every day because I’m still young and I think I can improve and take even more steps forward and help the team to win matches.

“I think we’re getting better every week and personally I feel that way too, so we’re keen to get going with a month that has a lot of important matches and we’ll try to take as many points as possible.”

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El Clásico
Saturday’s Clasico gives Real Madrid the chance to strike the first blow in a LaLiga Santander title race with Barcelona. For Courtois, the fixture is a standout one in the footballing calendar.

“It’s a more special match,” Courtois said. “These are games that, from my childhood and even through my time playing at Chelsea, you would watch on TV if you could. These are special matches that you dream of playing in.”

“El Clasico is important, it’s the first clash between the giants. If we win then that’s good, but we can’t get complacent and we must keep winning.

“It’s a long season and there are three points on offer, just like any other week, but obviously it’s important to win for confidence and for pride. Above all, it’s about the pride of winning Clasicos.”

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“Barcelona are always going to be good. I think that the noise around them is from the outside and I think that the team is united on the inside. We’ve seen that they’ve started the season well, winning matches. It’ll be a good game and a difficult game.

“They have a new coach and that’ll be different, but Barcelona also maintain a certain style and we have to be good tactically and we have to approach the game with a good mentality. I hope we can win it.”

Courtois goes up against Lionel Messi on Saturday – a player that he is yet to concede a goal to as a Real Madrid goalkeeper.

“Sometimes you try to find a pattern, to see if he tends to do this or that when facing a goalkeeper,” Courtois continued. “But, we’re also talking about a player like Messi and when you think he is about to do one thing then he can change and do something different at the last second. But, you can try to study him.

“Obviously it’s always special, since he is one of the best players in history along with Cristiano Ronaldo, for example. It’s nice to go up against these players. It means you can say to your children and grandchildren that you’ve played against them and denied them some goals.”


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Silent Camp Nou, Silent El Clasico ‘The first Ever’

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For the first time in history, Barcelona and Real Madrid will play against each other with no fans present at the match. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, top level football is still closed to the public in Spain, which means Saturday’s Clasico will be played in front of an g.


Real Madrid have always been unwelcome visitors to Barcelona’s home stadium, with their players often whistled before and during games. This time, though, there will be silence, as El Clasico is played behind closed doors for the first time ever.

Only a select few will be allowed inside the ground on matchday. They include the players, match officials, plus a limited number of coaches, doctors, kitmen, directors, journalists and club employees.The extensive police presence that is often deployed at these types of matches will not be needed because of the lack of supporters.

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There are conflicting opinions within Catalan politics over whether the Camp Nou can begin to stage matches with fans present. The Generalitat’s secretary of sport, Gerard Figueras, has opened the door for supporters to attend Barcelona’s Champions League fixture with Juventus on December 8.

However, the Generalitat’s health minister, Alba Verges, remains more cautious over whether Barcelona can allow in a reduced crowd for their Champions League games, as UEFA permit.

Away advantage?
It remains to be seen whether Real Madrid can capitalise on the lack of a home crowd when they visit the Camp Nou on Saturday. Los Blancos haven’t won on any of their last four trips to Barcelona in LaLiga Santander, with their last away win in a league Clasico coming in 2016.

They have, though, lost just one of their four league meetings at the Camp Nou since that 2-1 victory towards the backend of the 2015/16 campaign – the 5-1 defeat at the start of the 2018/19 season.


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Segino Dest Sets to make El clasico’s debut

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A Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona is watched by millions of people around the world. For the first time ever, viewers from the United States will be able to see a compatriot on the pitch on Saturday.


Sergino Dest will become the first American player ever to feature in the fixture in its 118 years of history, should Ronald Koeman decide to play him.

The possible absence of Jordi Alba, who is a doubt for the match because of injury, could leave a spot for the 19-year-old out of position at left-back, presuming Koeman opts for Sergi Roberto at right-back.

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Dest’s versatility was one of the many things that attracted interest from several clubs across Europe over the summer. Barcelona beat competition from the likes of Bayern Munich to sign the defender from Ajax.

A United States international, Dest was born in the Netherlands to an American father and Dutch mother. He made his decision to represent the USA at international level at the age of 16.

The former Ajax right-back isn’t the only American on the books at Barcelona either these days. Konrad de la Fuente has spent the last two years playing for Barcelona B and has received call-ups for first team squads, although the 19-year-old is yet to make a senior appearance for the club.

Having two players in and around the Barcelona first team is good news for the US national team going into the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and the 2026 World Cup, which they co-host alongside Canada and Mexico.

There are American players dotted around some of Europe’s biggest clubs, too, such as Weston McKennie at Juventus, Giovanni Reyna at Borussia Dortmund and Chris Richards at Bayern Munich

You’ve also got Tyler Adams at RB Leipzig, Josh Sargent at Werder Bremen, Timothy Weah at Lille and Antonee Robinson at Fulham all making a name for themselves on the continent.


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Real Madrid’s captain Sergio Ramos might Miss El Clasico

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Real Madrid are anxiously sweating on the fitness of captain and talisman Sergio Ramos, ahead of a crunch Clasico showdown with bitter rivals Barcelona this weekend.


Ramos has spent time on the sidelines and trained alone ever since picking up a knock during a recent LaLiga clash with Cadiz.

The 36-year-old hobbled off following the half-time interval in a match which Madrid were dealt a shock 1-0 defeat, placing even more emphasis upon the upcoming meeting with Barca.

Madrid have taken just 10 points from five games after starting the season at a slow pace, and will learn at the last minute whether Ramos will be back in time for Saturday’s showdown at the Nou Camp.

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Ramos did not feature midweek as Madrid were again defeated, this time by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

The Madrid captain watched from the stands as his side lost their opening group game 3-2 at home, despite scoring two second half goals and looking on course to stage a comeback.

Dani Carvajal, Eden Hazard and Martin Odegaard already ruled out of the Barca fixture, while Mariano Diaz and Alvaro Odriozola are also unavailable for Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Eder Militao partnered Raphael Varane in the heart of Madrid’s defence against Shakhtar, and could be set to do the same should Ramos not return in time.

In contrast Barca triumphed spectacularly during the midweek Champions League action, hammering Ferencvaros 5-1, despite seeing Gerard Pique sent off.

Ronald Koeman’s team enter the Clasico sitting in 9th place, having played one game fewer than Madrid and taking seven points from four matches.


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Eight Barcelona players set to make their El Clasico debut

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There isn’t a football match quite like the Clasico, yet Barcelona could be in the rather novel position on Saturday of having eight players who could make their first ever appearance in the famed clash with Real Madrid.

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For a young footballer, being able to play in such a match is the stuff of dreams, but very few get to imagine it in reality, especially over the last decade when the teams at both clubs were so settled and full of quality.

Now though, there is a degree of unpredictability about both teams, you can’t be sure which personnel will be selected and even then you can’t be sure what they will play like.

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Unless it was in the Copa del Rey, Neto’s chance of being involved in a Clasico was almost zero, yet with Marc-Andre ter Stegen getting an injury he will be between the posts for the mammoth clash.

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The American international has just arrived and this will be one of those matches that he will remember for a long time, be that a positive or a negative.

Jordi Alba is rushing to be back in time to play, but as things stand it will be Dest who plays from the start.

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In principle, the Uruguayan won’t be part of Ronald Koeman’s starting XI plans with both Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique available. If either of those players suffers an injury either before or during the match, Araujo will be drafted in, given he is now the team’s third-choice central defender.

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Firpo is still behind Dest in the pecking order, even with the American on the wrong side, but if he somehow is involved it will be his first Clasico appearance.

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Barcelona’s marquee signing of the summer impressed in the midweek victory over Ferencvaros, completing 92% of his 80 attempted passes, and now he will be tasked with carrying that form into his first ever Clasico.

It isn’t likely that he will be a starter with Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong both available, but Pjanic has a lot of experience at the top level and knows how they should be played.

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Prior to the start of the LaLiga Santander season, Koeman informed Riqui Puig that he wouldn’t get a lot of minutes in the senior team, but the player opted to stay. This gives him a chance of getting his first taste of Clasico action, although it’s difficult to see that chance being anything other than remote.

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One of the sensations of the current Barcelona team, the 17-year-old is showing himself to be extremely capable of playing for Los Cules, irrespective of the scale of the fixture. Koeman is responding to his efforts and trusts him enough to hand the Spaniard senior minutes.

Now, giving him the same minutes in a Clasico is another matter, but it wouldn’t at all be a surprise if he was the first substitution made.

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Another player who benefitted from the Champions League clash with Ferencvaros, Trincao has excited supporters with how he has settled into life at the Camp Nou. The right-wing position seemingly belongs to Antoine Griezmann, but Trincao’s form is making it harder and harder for the Dutch coach to leave him on the sideline.

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Both teams needs the win; ‘Blockbuster El Classico Will be tough’

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The Clasico is always billed as a blockbuster. It’s usually a thriller, occasionally a horror story for one of the two sides. But this Saturday, with 99,000 empty seats, it will feel more like a silent movie, and a very strange one at that.

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Rarely have both clubs come into the fixture in so much turmoil. Madrid are in pieces on the pitch after two of their worst performances under Zinedine Zidane. And Barcelona are in bits off it with boardroom dramas a constant in the Catalan capital.

Madrid are suffering off the pitch too, in as much as they share Barcelona’s financial concerns. And not everything is perfect on the field for Barca who slipped up last weekend away to Getafe, making it the first day in which both of the big two had lost without scoring since 2000.

It was in May of the 1999-2000 season that Barca lost 2-0 to Rayo Vallecano while Real Madrid were beaten 1-0 by Alaves. The Clasicos that season ended 3-0 to Real Madrid and 2-2. Deportivo won the league.

There is a feeling that ‘someone else’ could win the league this season too if Madrid continue to stumble and Barcelona buckle under the weight of boardroom upheaval.

After losing 3-2 to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, Madrid media speculated over who would have been jeered the most had the defeat taken place in a full Santiago Bernabeu.

‘Heading for Europa League’ read one sarcastic headline. In this group that is maybe not beyond the realms of possibility for Real Madrid.

One columnist accused Zidane of picking the team by just throwing oranges in the air and seeing where they land. He is currently not helped by injuries to Eden Hazard and Martin Odegaard who were meant to make a difference at the end of a summer marked by the absence of signings for the first time in 20 years, but there has been a ‘lucky dip’ element to his XIs with wild switches from two wingers in a 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 with no wingers.

On Wednesday night he benched Vinicius and Benzema even though Madrid were missing their captain at the other end of the pitch.

Much was made of the chaos that always ensues when Sergio Ramos is missing and it’s true that Madrid have lost to Manchester City and Ajax, Juventus and PSG without him but he was there in the first half at the weekend and it was his mistake which led to Cadiz’s goal, so this is not just about one important player missing.

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Barcelona’s problems on the pitch seem far smaller. What to do with Griezmann is currently Koeman’s biggest headache. How Madrid would love to have the Frenchman in their team. Barcelona’s cast of a thousand forwards (Messi, Ansu Fati, Dembele, Pedri, Francisco Trincao) might lack a centre-forward but it beats Madrid’s depleted troupe hands down right now.

That’s the most striking thing about this Madrid team – there is nothing to excite and nothing to rely on. At this juncture the £163m (180m euros) on Hazard and Luka Jovic looks to have been money badly spent.

The young Brazilians Vinicius and Rodrigo Goes are not progressing sufficiently under Zinedine Zidane and with Marco Asensio unable to make a consistent impact on games, it’s a Madrid team that no longer frightens opposition defences.

While things are currently not as bad on the pitch for Barcelona, off it the club continues to stumble from one drama to the next. There is a projected £271m (300m euros) shortfall in revenue this season that can only be tackled by big cuts in the wage bill.

The tactic of persuading players to, in effect, receive the same amount of money but over a longer period has worked with Frenkie de Jong, Gerard Pique, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Clement Lenglet who have all extended contracts, but not, so far, with others.

Meanwhile, a petition to force a referendum on whether the board should be able to see out their term of office until March 2021, one that needed 16,500 names, gathered over 20,000.

Only the problems of how to stage the referendum during a pandemic can now delay the president being dumped before December with elections in January.

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Madrid are not showing the same overt signs of chaos but they are also bracing themselves for a huge drop in revenue.

The big two in Spain make more money from football tourism and full stadiums than, arguably, any club in Europe and nothing like a Clasico behind closed doors will remind them of what they are currently missing out on.

Never before has the fixture taken place without fans – every groan from the technical area will be heard. Koeman knows only about playing against Madrid. He was victorious six times with three draws and five defeats during his career.

Zinedine Zidane has never lost at the Nou Camp as a coach with two wins and three draws to date. His position will be under greater scrutiny than ever if he slips us this time.

A gentle campaign around Real Madrid Castilla coach Raul being his replacement-in-waiting has already started to pick up speed. It will find another gear on Saturday if Real Madrid lose the weirdest of Clasicos.

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How Lenglet defend varane’s challenge during El Clásico clash.

…penalty might have changed that

Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet has defended himself following his challenge on Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane during Wednesday’s Clásico at Camp Nou.

Though it was a high challenge inside his own penalty area, it didn’t result in a penalty being given even after a VAR check, and Lenglet insists the decision must be respected.

The game ultimately finished 0-0 in what was an incredibly dull contest between two of the most famous clubs in world football. A penalty might have changed that, but Lenglet wasn’t penalised after his studs made contact with Varane’s thigh in an effort to win a header.

Both Real coach Zinedine Zidane and captain Sergio Ramos were unhappy, with the latter in particular describing that and a separate shirt pull on Varane as ‘pretty clear’ penalties, but Lenglet stood his ground when quizzed after the game.

“For me, it’s not a penalty,” he is quoted as saying by AS when asked about his challenge.

Lenglet insists he was simply trying to win the ball with his head and any contact with Varane was for leverage in that aerial contest.

“I wanted to get the ball out with my head and give strength to my movement. I used my body and legs for that and, unfortunately, I touched Raphael’s leg,” he explained.

“I’m the protagonist and I know I’m going to clear the ball. I’m not a player who likes to kick people. But if some believe it’s a penalty, it’s up to the VAR. The VAR made a decision and must be respected.”

The result did nothing to the top of La Liga, with Barça and Real level on points – the Catalans are ahead by virtue of a marginally superior goal difference. Sevilla are five points back in third place, with none of the top three winning either of the last two league fixtures.

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9 people arrested after El clasico clash turns war.

About nine people have been arrested by police and 46 injured as Catalonia independence protesters threw rocks at police on the night of ‘El Clasico’ the much rivaled match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, which had previously been postponed due to security fears.

9 arrested after El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid turned violent  (photos)

As Barcelona played Real Madrid on Wednesday night at the Camp Nou stadium, masked protesters carrying Catalan seperatist flags in support of Catalonia independence from Spain, set bins on fire and threw glass bottles and rocks at police, who responded with foam bullets in a street outside the stadium.

The protesters, set up barricades in the middle of the street, which they then set on fire after police arrived in dozens of vans.

9 arrested after El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid turned violent  (photos)

This is the first violent protest in Catalonia region since October when Spain’s top court jailed nine Catalan separatist leaders over their role in a failed 2017 bid for independence.

9 arrested after El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid turned violent  (photos)

It should be noted that this classico match which ended 0-0 was supposed to be played in December but was postponed due to serious security concerns and on Wednesday night thousands of Catalonia protesters could be seen chanting “Independence” and “Free political prisoners”

The main goal of the protests is to get pain’s government to negotiate on Catalonia’s right to self-determination and independence from Spain and to achieve freedom for the separatists who were jailed.

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El Clasico – See reactions from fans after Real Madrid and Barcelona match.

The fixture that football fans around the world unite in to glue their eyes towards.

Over the years it has had drama, passion, two of the world’s greatest ever players regularly partaking in it, and more often than not, football of the highest order with goals galore.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have been the top two sides in La Liga for sometime, however, they do say the form book goes out of the window for derby clashes, right? Well, having not beaten La Blaugrana in the league in their last six attempts, during which time La Liga has been won twice by Barça, perhaps that isn’t so.

Either way it was sure to be an engrossing clash at Camp Nou, with both sides level pegging atop the division heading into Wednesday night’s clash.

So, who was going to start for either side? How were the teams going to setup? And…more importantly, was a golfer going to get the nod over youth?

You betcha.

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0-0: Barcelona Struggles Against Real Madrid In El Clasico.

A disappointing Clasico ended goalless at Camp Nou on Wednesday night, keeping Barcelona at the top of La Liga despite Real Madrid producing an accomplished and disciplined performance.

Both sides went close inside the opening 30 minutes, with Karim Benzema having a shot cleared off of the line by Gerard Pique before Sergio Ramos performed a similar action to deny Lionel Messi.

The draw means Barça keep top spot ahead of the weekend, though both sides will know further slip-ups must not occur in what is set to be one of Europe’s more exciting title races in the second half of the season.

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BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

The pressure piling on Ernesto Valverde had been alleviated somewhat by a run of four La Liga victories in a row, but the draw with Real Sociedad on Saturday left Barça needing to beat Real to give themselves a more comfortable cushion at the top of Spain’s top flight.

But for the most part Barça failed to get their most influential players involved in their attacking build-up. While Messi was bright throughout, neither Luis Suarez nor Antoine Griezmann could get themselves in situations that really threatened Real.

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That’ll be concerning for Valverde, even if his side have scored ten more goals than Real in the league this season.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (7); Semedo (6), Pique (8), Lenglet (7), Alba (6); Roberto (6), Rakitic (5), De Jong (5); Messi (7), Suarez (5), Griezmann (5).

Substitutes: Vidal (6), Fati (5).

STAR PLAYER – Gerard Pique has reestablished himself as one of the world’s best centre backs after a few ropey seasons, and it was another accomplished performance from the former Spain international on Wednesday night.

Karim Benzema,Gerard Pique
His goal-line clearance early on demonstrated immense positional awareness, and he was able to ensure spells of Real pressure always ended without any firm final product.

REAL MADRID

Key Talking Point

An inauspicious start to the season seemingly ruled Real out of having a credible shot at the La Liga title, but slip-ups from other teams and a good run of form that has seen Los Blancos lose just once since October saw Real come into Wednesday night’s clash level on points with their hosts.

And given that Real’s players could have been slightly intimidated by the scenes outside Camp Nou before the game, Zidane will be relatively happy to see his side leave Catalonia with a point.

Real effectively limited Barça’s attacking output and had more than their fair share of chances, with Gareth Bale hitting the side-netting when well placed to test Thibaut Courtois in the second half, while Benzema hit the woodwork in the 64th minute.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Courtois (6); Carvajal (7), Varane (7), Ramos (7), Mendy (6); Valverde (8), Casemiro (7), Kroos (7); Bale (6), Benzema (6), Isco (6).

Substitutes: Rodrygo (5), Modric (5).

STAR PLAYER – This Federico Valverde could be brilliant, y’know.

Antoine Griezmann,Federico Valverde
The Uruguayan has been one of Los Blancos’ standout performers so far this season in the semi-regular absence of Luka Modric, who has struggled with injury throughout the campaign and was stuck on the bench on Wednesday by Zidane.

His battle with Barcelona’s shiny, ex-Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong was one of the more intriguing battles of the evening, and it was one Valverde won for the most part, limiting the Dutchman’s forward forays to give the visitors more of a platform in midfield.

Casemiro was also instrumental in ensuring Barça were rarely able to build up too much momentum in their attacking movements during the first hour of the contest.

Looking Ahead

The two teams will play their last matches before the winter break at the weekend, with Barcelona hosting Alaves on Saturday before Real Madrid entertain Athletic Club on Sunday,

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Short History of Lionel Messi in El Clásico.

The world’s best player takes part in the world’s biggest game – at club level, at least – on Wednesday, as Lionel Messi faces Real Madrid for the 42nd time in his career.

Should he feature at Camp Nou as expected, the 2019 Ballon d’Or winner will equal Xavi Hernandez for the most appearances ever in El Clásico for a Barcelona player. However, Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, barring any last-minute injury problems, will take his own tally to 43 outings – the most of any player on either side.

Interestingly, Barça’s number 10 has actually gone three games against Real Madrid without scoring or assisting (he’s never gone on a streak of four matches) but remains the all-time top scorer in El Clásico, with 26 strikes in total – well ahead of legendary Madrid trio Alfredo di Stefano, Cristiano Ronaldo and Raúl.

All-Time Top Goalscorers – El Clásico
Club Player Liga Cup Super Cup European Total
Barcelona Lionel Messi 18 0 6 2 26
Real Madrid Alfredo Di Stéfano 14 2 2 0 18
Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo 9 5 4 0 18
Real Madrid Raúl González 11 0 3 1 15

Perhaps unsurprisingly, no player has more assists than Messi in the fixture’s history either (14).

First Steps

Messi’s Clásico story began way back in November 2004, when the then-17-year-old was included on the bench for a 3-0 win at Camp Nou.

An equally fresh-faced Andres Iniesta came off the bench in the second half for Henrik Larsson but Messi – who had made his La Liga debut just a month prior – watched from the dugout as Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o tore Madrid’s backline apart.

Ronaldinho,Lionel Messi

One year later, almost to the day, Messi started in his first Clásico appearance at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Now 18, Messi sparkled on the right of the front three, tormenting a side that featured David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Ramos – the latter of whom gave the young Argentine an early shoulder check in what would be the start of many battles to come.

Messi registered the first of his Clásico assists that day, with Eto’o almost pinching the ball off the toe of the youngster as he danced into the 18-yard-box, before poking home for the first in another 3-0 win.

First Goals

It took another 14 months for the first of Messi’s goals against Real Madrid.

In March 2007, Messi – who had missed the previous season’s fixture through injury – made up for lost time by bagging a magical hat-trick in his first-ever Clásico appearance at Camp Nou.

The 3-3 draw marked the teenage Messi’s coming of age performance in some respects, with his darting, weaving and ruthless finishing amping up the Diego Maradona comparisons all the way to 11.

As noted by Sid Lowe in the Guardian the day after the game, one newspaper ran a ‘Spot the Difference’ cartoon showing Maradona and Messi side by side, next to a caption that read, ‘Don’t kill yourself trying – there is no difference.’

Best Performances
Barcelona’s Argentinian Lionel Messi (C)

After that hat-trick, the goals continued with regularity. However, the only other hat-trick (to date) came in the barn-burning 2014 La Liga encounter at the Bernabeu, as Messi scored an 84th-minute penalty to complete his treble and seal a 4-3 win.

Among the Argentine’s most memorable displays include a double in the 6-2 humbling of Madrid in 2009, as Messi played as a ‘false nine’ to devastating effect in Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side.

“It was a plan that Pep Guardiola had come up with especially for this match in order for us to be our most effective,” Messi told FourFourTwo in 2017. “Those big matches can go either way, and I’ve been in games where we’ve conceded four goals to Real and others where we have scored six. It was a fantastic performance from the whole team. I’m not sure whether it was the best, but it’s certainly a match that we will always remember and cherish.”

In the spring of 2011 – during an ill-tempered but historic period as Guardiola’s Barcelona and Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid faced off four times in the space of three weeks – Messi again scored twice to decide the Champions League semi-final at the Bernabeu single-handedly.

His magnificent solo effort as he takes the ball of Sergio Busquets’ toe and jets past Lassana Diarra, Ramos, Raul Albiol and Marcelo before sliding past Iker Casillas remains one of the great Champions League goals.

Undoubtedly, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s other standout moment in Clásico history came in 2017 as he lashed in a 92nd-minute winner to secure a 3-2 win at the Bernabeu, before celebrating by holding his shirt up and presenting it to the crowd.

Barcelona lost out in La Liga and the Champions League that year with Real Madrid taking both, but Messi had proved a point on an individual level. He was the king of the Clásico.

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Home or Away

Perhaps curiously, 15 of Messi’s 26 Clásico goals (11 out of 18 in La Liga) have come at the Bernabeu, which has been a happy hunting ground for the world’s best player.

Messi’s apparent preference for playing away against Madrid is shared by the rest of the Barça team with the club’s best results in recent seasons often coming away from home.

Curiously, Messi has scored just once at home against Real Madrid since 2012 (excluding the Supercopa). Perhaps even more bizarrely, the last time he netted in a home league victory in El Clásico? 2008.

Messi told MARCA prior to December’s Clásico: “When we play at the Bernabeu, many more spaces are generated. They attack us more because they have the obligation as the host team and people push them for that.

“At the Camp Nou they play another type of match, sitting a little further back, they are closer together and hit on the counter-attack because they have very fast players up front. At the Bernabeu we play 90 minutes equally. Here the game becomes more locked and is more complicated.”

Real Madrid v Galatasaray: Group A – UEFA Champions League

With nothing separating Barça and Real at the top of La Liga and the winter break to follow, Wednesday’s meeting has extra bite – as if it needed it amid the off-field issues involving the rescheduling of the fixture and the threat of further disruption caused by the ‘Tsunami Democràtic’ planned protests.

On the pitch, Barcelona also have the chance to overtake Real Madrid in the head-to-head record for the most La Liga wins in Clásico history (currently both teams have 72 wins).

Wednesday promises to be a historic encounter for one reason or another.

It would be unusual if Messi didn’t have a say.

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