Copa results were telling
The Copa de Rey hasn’t done Barcelona any favours on the eve of El Clásico, as further highlighted by the victory of Real Madrid and even Atletico in midweek. Both teams from the capital stuffed their opposition from Segunda B, as should be expected. There’s a big gap between these leagues, and even with the reserves out and away from home, it’s logical that they wrack up big results. Yet Barça didn’t score, or win, and could only draw in a match against Hercules, who are having a weak campaign in Segunda B Group 3. Cultural, who Real Madrid hammered both home and away, on the other hand are undefeated leaders in their group. It’s a huge contrast.
Barça's replacements out of tune
Of course, those playing in El Clásico will be others, which you have to take into account. We’ve talked about what Madrid and Barça’s second strings have done, but on Saturday the first teams will face off. But what this little episode has confirmed is that Barça’s replacements are out of tune. Luis Enrique has a good first eleven, but after that it’s almost possible to say that each back-up player is inferior. The disappointments in this sense have been repeated. And there is where Zidane holds the advantage, with his well switched on squad. For instance: the player who’s played least this season is Mariano, and he was a beast versus Cultural.
LaLiga is won with 20 players, not 11
This is going to count for a lot in LaLiga, I reckon. The title isn’t won with eleven players, or very rarely anyway, and as time goes on even less so with the amount of games causing fatigue and injury. LaLiga is won with 18 or 20, and Zidane has 20 or more in form while Enrique can count on eleven players and little else. That is why we saw Piqué and Jordi Alba complete the game in Anoeta incredibly tired (and only thanks to the courage of Piqué Barça avoided fielding a possibly ineligible player in Marlon). Saturday though we’ll see Barça’s best side, including Iniesta, though his reappearance is obliged due to the feebleness of the replacements. For the same reason Piqué and Alba will also play in a weakened capacity.