Top 5 things to keep in mind as El Clásico approaches

    It is still possibly the most important domestic soccer match in the world. On Sunday, Barcelona will face Real Madrid in El Clásico, the Spanish soccer derby that pits the two biggest clubs in the country against each other. With a projected international viewership of hundreds of millions, this is still a significant appeal. However, it comes at a time when neither team is at its best.

    Here are five things to know about El Clásico on Sunday:

    Not in Good Position for El Clásico:

    Real Madrid has lost two of its last three games, to Espanyol and Sheriff Tiraspol. FC Barcelona has lost two of its last three games, to Benfica and Atlético Madrid, the La Liga winners last season. Although it is early in the season, Real Madrid is presently three points behind La Liga leader Real Sociedad and FC Barcelona is five points behind.

    In terms of finances, FC Barcelona is facing a $1.57 billion debt mountain. The team was obliged to let Lionel Messi, widely regarded as the best player in history, leave for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.

    Things are looking up at Real Madrid, where the biggest worry this summer was not being able to sign Kylian Mbappe (at least for now). However, for a club that prides itself on being not only among the best, but the best in the world, an underwhelming season appears to be in store.

    Midfield Battle is Crucial for El Clásico:

    Sergio Busquets will most likely lead a Barcelona midfield three that includes Frenkie De Jong and Gavi, another bright kid. The 17-year-old has a lot of talent, but he’ll be under a lot of pressure in his debut El Clásico.

    Casemiro, Luka Modric, and Toni Kroos are likely to start for Real Madrid. It’s a trio that seems to have known each other for a long time, and Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti will rely on that experience.

    To win the midfield fight, the three will have to adequately shield their center backs while also winning enough possession to hand the ball to Los Blancos’ formidable forward line.

    Possible Debuts in El Clásico

    Since joining Barcelona from Manchester City in the summer, Sergio Aguero has only played three minutes in the league. He is unlikely to start this match due to his recent injury, although he could be inserted at any point if Barcelona requires a goal. Aguero may be past his prime, but he still knows where the net is better than others.

    Eduardo Camavinga, an 18-year-old French midfielder regarded as one of the best young players in the world, did not feature in Real Madrid’s 5-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek. Even if Ancelotti chooses experience over youth once more, Camavinga could be called upon to make his debut in this match.

    Benzema vs. Fati

    Ansu Fati, who is still only 18, has extended his contract with Barcelona until 2027. The contract includes a $1.16 billion release clause, indicating how highly Barca regards him. Fati has only recently returned from a lengthy injury layoff, but he will be confident of hurting a Madrid defense that is susceptible to speed.

    Karim Benzema, on the other side, will lead to Real Madrid’s attack. The 33-year-old French forward appears to be improving with age. He’s on fire right now, with nine goals and seven assists in La Liga so far.

    Becoming the Best in Europe

    Both Barcelona and Real Madrid are in the Champions League, but neither is a strong contender to win it. Barcelona is going through a difficult period without Messi. Real Madrid, meanwhile, requires a roster makeover as soon as possible.

    The danger for these two is that they will lag behind the big clubs in the English Premier League (particularly Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea). PSG is likewise adamant about winning the Champions League. Bayern Munich, on the other hand, has remained a formidable opponent.

    The Spanish heavyweights are no longer financially competitive with Manchester City and PSG, which are effectively backed by the UAE and Qatar, respectively. El Clásico is still a great event, but it is no longer between the world’s two best teams.

    Read: Barcelona Femeni win El Clasico 5-0 and are named Spanish champions with six games remaining

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