There are just over 24 hours to go until the big one.
On Saturday at the Camp Nou, FC Barcelona face Real Madrid in El Clasico, and analysis has already begun as to what the keys to victory will be for each team.
In the Catalan press, Mundo Deportivo claim that “the hope of building something new” stands in Barca’s favor.
Through ceding the La Liga title to Madrid and being pummeled 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals, the Blaugrana “hit rock bottom” last season, it is written.
This term, however, a wind of change has blown through the Catalan capital and the first team squad now boasts a healthy mix of veterans and young players and newcomers – the latter of whom have a clean slate and “only think about succeeding”.
“All this is perceived on the field: more rhythm, more verticality, more solidarity between lines, more capacity to work… [the] details need to be polished, but something is being built,” quips Javier Gascon.
On the other hand, Madrid made no marquee signings in the summer. And separately, it is worth noting the form that the sides come into the fixture with.
Barca are winless in two in La Liga, thanks to a 1-1 draw with Sevilla and 1-0 loss at Getafe, yet they have boosted morale with a 5-1 drubbing of Ferencvaros on Tuesday.
As for the visitors, Madrid come into the tie having lost their last pair of fixtures embarrassingly to minnows Cadiz (0-1) and Shakhtar Donetsk in Europe (2-3) both at home.
Zidane has pressure on him now not to make it three in a row, then, and could be out of a job with a heavy loss to the capital outfit’s bitterest of foes. It is believed that his stock his falling at the Bernabeu and his charges are growing skeptical of the Frenchman’s decisions.
In the other dug out, however, his opposite number has Barca’s stars dedicated to the fullest, and MD attest that the [Ronald] “Koeman factor” might be important.
In a similar vein, Lionel Messi has bought into the Dream Team Legend’s project. Lacking a goal from open play thus far in 2020/2021, he is still appears to be enjoying his soccer again and could take his game up a gear in the sport’s biggest club meeting.
This is partly because the skipper faces less pressure to score than before, with Philippe Coutinho, Ansu Fati and Pedri among Barca’s top performers.
The latter duo becoming the first 17-year-olds to score in the same Champions League game in the mentioned mauling of Ferencvaros, the youngsters boast hunger to play and impress, plus add “freshness”.
With them and others such as Francisco Trincao, Barca adopt an aggressive style of pressing and looking to recover the ball. “Possession is still important, but it’s no longer an obsession,” note MD, and it remains to be seen whether they can take the momentum in the title race by claiming all three points tomorrow.
Source: Forbes – Business