There have been so many iconic moments in El Clasico over the years and this Sunday’s match between Barcelona and Real Madrid will be a crucial one.
Twelve matchdays will remain after this weekend, so it feels like a must-win for Real Madrid which is what Eurosport Spain’s Felix Martin alluded to when previewing El Clasico.
“I think Barcelona has a clear advantage to win this league,” said Martin. “Xavi’s team is proving to have much more consistency than Real Madrid.
“If Real Madrid won at the Camp Nou they would be six points behind Barcelona, but considering the ease with which Barca is winning games, it would seem complicated to think of two possible defeats from Barcelona.
“In addition, if Barcelona wins and are 12 points ahead, that would virtually end the title race.”
Real Madrid should stop Barcelona from dominating possession
Real Madrid have not been at their best in the league, far from the force they were 12 months ago.
They recently dropped points against arch rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Betis which has cost them further ground in the title race.
Martin picked out Ferland Mendy and David Alaba as key players for Carlo Ancelotti’s side this Sunday.
“For me it would be important for Madrid to show the same level of intensity and concentration that they have shown in the two games against Liverpool,” he added.
“How they are in the Champions League and La Liga is quite different, but I think Ancelotti’s team should focus on trying to prevent Barcelona from dominating possession and therefore not having control of the game.
“For Barcelona, they will want to maintain possession of the ball and to have the game controlled at all times.”
Xavi here for the long-term
When Xavi took over Barcelona in 2021, the Spanish giants were not in a good place. However, he has turned things around over the last 16 months.
Despite being eliminated from the group stages of the Champions League and being beaten by Manchester United in the last 32 of the Europa League, Barcelona have been on an excellent run in the league.
Xavi’s contract expires in June 2024 and even if Barcelona lose the league title, Martin believes he will not be sacked.
“I think it’s a very bold hypothesis [to say he will lose his job] considering how things are going this season,” explained Martin.
“Yes they have failed in Europe, but they are in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, having won the first game at the Bernabeu, so one foot in the Copa del Rey final and have the league perfectly controlled.
“I really believe that Xavi will stay and build a project at Barcelona long-term one, as long as a major catastrophe doesn’t happen.”
Xavi, en el Villarreal-Barcelona
Image credit: Getty Images
What is Ancelotti’s future
Ancelotti’s contract at Real Madrid also runs out next year and there are rumours Brazil want him to manage their national team.
Last year, Ancelotti stated Real Madrid would be his last job, but the Brazilian FA are reported to be pushing for the Italian to be Tite’s replacement.
“Yep, it looks like Ancelotti is considering the Brazil national team proposal,” said Martin on the reports. “We don’t know much about this, but there are already some rumours saying that he might not continue.
“When it comes to his replacement, we have read many names. Pochettino is the lead candidate, Arteta would be a huge surprise given how Arsenal have been this season and I don’t think he would like to leave the Gunners.
“Xabi Alonso, Raul (Real Madrid’s under-23 team coach) or Alvaro Arbeloa (under-18 team coach) have also been mentioned.”
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