Want to see each other again

Madrid and Barça, in the best moment of the season, decide who leads the hunt for Atlético. Piqué returns and Hazard is still out.


Whatever happens, this Classic will be won by Atlético, but they will also choose the leader of their opposition. Madrid and Barça are delighted to see each other again because it is already spring on both shores. The white team has twelve games without losing. In that section he has only left two draws, against Atlético, leader of the championship, and Real, Cup champion. Two defensible semi-pieces. Meanwhile, Barça has not lost in the league since December 5 and has eight consecutive victories away from the Camp Nou. So now the sun is shining when, in September, it was cloudy (follow the game live on AS.com).

In a year of hard adjustment, both have made a virtue of necessity. Eleven players under the age of 23 per head have already played this season. And the results have proven that the real signings were at home.

Things have gotten better along the way. At Madrid, Vinicius has already completed his highest scoring year and will probably close it with a match record. Benzema improves month by month: he has scored in the last six league games (eight goals). Kroos, Casemiro and Modric have returned to highs when it was no longer expected. Especially the Croatian, who in seven months has only lost one game due to injury (a contracture) and who has already played 47 at a very high level. His case is unusual in a squad that touches 50 injuries. In addition, Asensio has caught the wave and goes out to a goal every 40 minutes in his last four performances. And part of plan B is now the very first unit: Lucas Vázquez has 33 games and Nacho has played the last twelve in full, in which the team conceded only seven goals.

Pedri, Messi, Dembélé ...

Barça also collects pleasant surprises. The largest, Pedri, who came to practice and has played 43 of the 44 games of the course. Product of necessity, the quarry has awakened: Araújo has become a pillar; Mingueza, in happy replacement of almost everything behind, and Ilaix, in great hope.

Messi, who scored a goal in the first six league games, has scored 16 in the last 12. The Argentine has participated in 50 of the 68 goals for Barça (74%). Dembélé, who was going to lose, has scored 10 goals and played 36 games (last year he stayed at nine due to injuries). Even Griezmann, who has been removable, has already scored 14 goals (one less than in all of last year). And De Jong has lived up to his price, both as a midfielder and as a central defender. From the precarious, Koeman has completed a fantastic rebuild. Since the strictest austerity, Zidane has kept Madrid on the wave. The Frenchman has changed the course of the classics. Madrid only won one of the first fourteen against Guardiola's Barça. Zidane only adds two defeats in ten games.

Madrid's lineup, by default (three of the four starting defenders are still missing), hardly offers any doubts. Neither Carvajal nor Hazard arrived on time and, therefore, those who liquidated Liverpool will play. At Barça, due to excess, there are more doubts. Koeman has been a repeat team in the last four games. In all he played with three centrals and it seems that he will continue. If Piqué enters, recovered on the horn, De Jong will go to the center of the field and Griezmann will be left without a place. It is also possible that Araújo will relieve Mingueza.

Change of referee

Under the volcano will be Gil Manzano, who relieves the injured Mateu. Barça came out in a whirlwind after the VAR penalty from Lenglet to Ramos in the first round match (Munuera whistled on the advice of Sánchez Martínez). Since then they have not returned to point out a maximum penalty to Madrid and 23 games have passed (since 1974 a similar case has not been remembered). Jaime Latre's performance at Barça-Valladolid on Monday adds fuel to that fire.

The statistics say that Barça is one point above in everything (goals, shots, possession, passes, elaboration of their attacks ...) except in the stopped ball, the aerial game and the losses. The differences, in any case, are only visible under the microscope.

Photos from as.com
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