Barcelona Vs Real Madrid: Where El Clasico Will Be Won And Lost | NotableIn

Barcelona vs Real Madrid: Where El Clasico will be won and lost

Shishir Ghadve 30 Dec 2018, 3 mins read
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Barcelona sit top of La Liga ahead of the first El Clasico of the season, with Real Madrid on a run which has broken records in mediocrity.
Los Blancos have recorded their worst start to a season in 17 years having lost three of their opening nine matches.
The longest goal drought in the club’s 117 year history – 481 minutes before Marcelo thankfully found the back of the net on Saturday – has also contributed to Julen Lopategui being pushed to the brink just 13 matches into his tenure at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Form often counts for nothing in the biggest fixture in world football, which is taking place without the presence of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time in 11 years.
Leaky defences in the first-half
Real Madrid’s best bet may be to go for the jugular early on. Barcelona’s defensive options are already limited with Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique the only fit options at centre-half – with both playing the full 90 on Wednesday against Inter – and it has been in the opening 15 minutes where Ernesto Valverde’s side have been vulnerable.

Barcelona have conceded three times in the opening 15 minutes of La Liga matches this term – twice in the opening three minutes alone against Valencia and Huesca.
Real have been just as bad in the opening stages of matches, statistically worse than their arch-rivals in fact. Of the nine goals Los Blancos have conceded in the league, six have come in the opening half hour of matches.

Barca biting back in the second-half
Questionable form across the board means Barcelona have been able to take top spot in Spain despite winning just five of their opening nine matches. The reigning champions have held a half-time lead in just one of those games, however; the home tie against Huesca where they went onto score five more times in the second half in an 8-2 hammering.
Valverde’s half-time team talks would appear to be having the desired effect with 15 of their 23 league goals this term coming in the second-half. Barcelona have also managed to tighten things up in the last 15 minutes of matches, not conceding in that period in their opening eight games. Two late strikes from Sevilla last time out however (in the 79th and 90th minute) means they are still prone to making things difficult for themselves.

Real a hard nut to crack in the second-half
While Barcelona have been at their most lethal in second-halves, it is also the period where Real have generally managed to sort themselves out defensively.
Los Blancos have conceded just one goal in the second period of La Liga matches this season; Garcia Sanchez’s injury time strike in early October that secured Alaves their first La Liga win over the Spanish Giants since 1931.
Missing Messi?
Lionel Messi’s absence is of course an enforced one having suffered a fractured arm against Sevilla that will sideline him for three weeks.
Having struck a staggering 26 goals in this fixture, his absence is pivotal, with the Argentina international also enjoying another prolific start to the season with 12 goals and six assists in 12 appearances.
Messi has contributed a goal or an assist in seven of Barcelona’s nine La Liga matches this term; there are some sizeable shoes to fill.