Last season Barcelona virtually guaranteed winning La Liga by overcoming Real Madrid at home and then securing a draw in Madrid. No doubt Barca was superior to Los Blancos last season but so far the champions have been inconsistent while Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates have been on a phenomenal run. So what is at stake in the latest edition of El Clasico?
1) A win for Real Madrid will most likely pave the way to winning La Liga title this season provided there is no late season collapse and no points are wasted against the weaker sides.
2) A win or a draw for Barcelona will keep the club’s hopes of retaining the title alive. It might be early in the season but if the last couple of years are to be used as a reference point then the clashes between the two clubs are decisive since the point differential tends to be driven by the results from their two matches.
3) A win for Real Madrid will provide a massive boost for Los Blancos and their coach Jose Mourinho who is desperate to defeat Barca in La Liga or Europe as a Madrid boss after achieving the feat while coaching Inter. On the other hand, a loss will be damaging for both Mourinho and his players since Barca will receive a massive boost from winning in Madrid.
4) Real are 3 points ahead and have a game in hand so defeating Barcelona will create a six point gap with the potential of turning into an insurmountable nine point cushion if Real wins the match in hand.
5) Real have played only 6 matches at home while Barca have played nine home games which is another factor in the Madrid club’s favor. This makes El Clasico even more important for Barca and the stars such as Xavi, Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas are certainly aware of the significance of this clash.
While the match could end in a draw, a win for either team could be decisive in signalling which side has the upper-hand. A loss for Real Madrid will not be as damaging as a defeat for Barca may turn out to be, but the emotional and psychological edge gained by the winning side could prove crucial for the remainder of the season ahead of the return clash at the Camp Nou.
Simply put, Barca cannot afford to lose to Real because a potential nine point gap could be hard to overcome, particularly when Los Blancos are firing on all cylinders. All eyes will be on the two sides when they clash at the Santiago Bernabéu this weekend.
Note: Real Madrid v Barcelona is live on ESPN Deportes on Saturday, December 10 at 4PM ET.
Who will win? Real Madrid or Barcelona?