El Clasico 2013 – Barcelona’s defensive lapses vs Real Madrid's headaches: Who wins?
The biggest fixture of the season is finally here and it came quite early thanks to a Copa del Rey semi-final match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Brace yourself for El Clasico!
The Catalans are hungry to win back the league crown they lost last season while the Spanish giants are striving to knock defending Spanish Cup champions Barcelona off their perch. Three Clasicos are on the menu with the first of those on January 30 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
After a successful campaign last year where they hit a record 100 points in the league, Real Madrid failed to transfer their success to the new season. After 21 games, Los Blancos sit third in the table, 15 points behind Spanish La Liga leaders Barcelona.
Real Madrid have been in all sorts of problems and will be desperate to salvage better results from now on. They have to face arguably two of the best sides in the world Manchester United and Barcelona – in Europe and on the domestic front.
Apart from their fixture headache, coach Jose Mourinho faces another headache with the current injuries and suspensions spoiling the roster. Captain Iker Casillas has been ruled out for three months after breaking his hand last week. Like Pepe (knee injury), the Spaniard has been ruled out of El Clasico. Meanwhile, star players Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao and Angel Di Maria must serve suspensions.
According to reports, the relationship between the players and the manager at the Bernabeu is as bleak as ever. Adding fuel to the fire, Iker Casillas’ girlfriend Sara Carbonero recently claimed that Real Madrid supremo Jose Mourinho no longer communicates with his players.
As for Barcelona, they possess the luxury of a fully fit squad ahead of El Clasico on Wednesday night. However, they do have concerns of their own. The primary concern will be whether their defence can contain the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Karim Benzema.
The Blaugrana were given a tough time by Malaga who managed to score a total of four goals over two legs in the Copa Del Rey quarter-finals. Earlier in January, the Catalans also conceded a two-goal lead against ninth-placed Real Sociedad, losing the match 3-2.
Dani Alves and Jordi Alba might be known as the finest full backs in the world but their defensive abilities can be doubted. If Barca are to achieve anything out of the match against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, their full backs will have to stay committed to their defensive duties.
It would be criminal to name a favourite but as things stand, Barcelona emerge as the likely winners considering the power of their midfield and attacking machines, controlled by Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. However, if Real Madrid can secure a win over their arch rivals, it would calm a lot of nerves in the camp of Los Blancos.