Pessimism clouds Clasico after European slip-ups
The Clasico has been set for Sunday and the game between Real Madrid and Barcelona is sure to have huge ramifications on the La Liga race. However, poor showings in the Champions League has ensured that the encounter lacks the usual billing that accompanied the clash between the two best teams in the world in the past.
Real Madrid lost 2:1 to Manchester City at the Bernabeu on Wednesday while Barcelona drew 1:1 away to Napoli, a result which covered their shaky performance and appeared to confirm Messi’s fears that the Catalan club are not good enough for UCL triumph.
Regardless, the Catalans will take a two-point lead on the log to the Bernabeu after capitalizing on Real Madrid’s consecutive points loss in the 2 all draw against Celta Vigo and a loss to Levante. Former Argentina and Real Madrid forward Jorge Valdano described the Clasico thus:
“This Clasico is like a race between two injured people, the reality is the two teams are doing very badly”
“Barcelona’s recovery owes far more to Real’s decline than their own merits. Real’s slip-ups have strengthened Barca, who put in an abysmal performance against Napoli.”
Both sides will go into the game with their selection issues as Real Madrid are light at the front due to the absence of Marco Asensio, Rodrygo and Eden Hazard. Barcelona are also without Jordi Alba, Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez, and Sergi Roberto while Gerard Pique is battling to be fit.
It can be recalled that Quique Setien occupied his subs bench with three reserve players against Napoli while influencers in the dressing room are not holding back their anger at the club’s hierarchy. Ivan Rakitic said: “We have a short squad but those in charge knew that”
Regardless, Barcelona can rely on Messi who has regained his scoring form and has provided 4 assists and scored 4 goals in the last four league games. Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has acknowledged the threat the Argentine would pose to his side.
Ramos said: “He is one of the best players of all time, I have so much respect for him but I hope on Sunday he doesn’t have a good day as it would mean we will have done a good job”
“It will be a very competitive game because of what stage we are at in the season. The gap between us is minimal, the result could be decisive and I hope we can make a real statement by winning.”