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Real Madrid vs Barcelona: LaLiga El Clásico match preview, team news

Real Madrid host Barcelona at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Sunday in a top-of-the-table LaLiga Clásico.

Real Madrid host Barcelona at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Sunday in a top-of-the-table LaLiga Clásico.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona: LaLiga El Clásico match preview, team news

Real Madrid and Barcelona both drew in the Champions League in midweek, but the arch rivals’ European results have left them in rather different frames of mind as they approach their 185th LaLiga meeting on Sunday. While Madrid’s last-gasp equaliser against Shakhtar Donetsk sealed the tournament holders’ qualification for the last 16 on Tuesday, Barça’s equally late leveller at home to Inter Milan the following night was not enough to prevent the Italians from putting one foot in the knockout stages at the Catalans’ expense. Barça now need a minor miracle to avoid a second straight group-phase exit from Europe’s elite club competition. Given how deep the Blaugrana dug to fund a bumper transfer spending spree in the summer, the financial cost of Champions League elimination is one they can ill afford.

Follow the match between Real Madrid - Barcelona here

Barcelona head to Bernabéu as leaders

However, although Madrid are enjoying much better continental fortunes than Barça, on the domestic front it is Xavi Hernández’s men who have a very slight edge in 2022/23. After eight games of the LaLiga season, both sides have won seven and drawn one to accrue 22 points, but Barça go to the Bernabéu as league leaders, their superior goal difference nudging Los Blancos into second spot. (It’s worth noting, though, that teams’ head-to-head records are used as the main tiebreaker come the end of the season. Goal difference then comes back into play if the sides can’t be separated by their results against each other.) Having leapfrogged Madrid at the top after beating Real Mallorca at the beginning of October - the first time they had reached the league summit in two and a half years - Barça remained at the head of the table last weekend, their 1-0 victory over Celta Vigo bringing a sixth top-flight clean sheet so far this season. Alexander Isak’s goal for Real Sociedad on matchday two is still the only occasion that Barça have conceded in LaLiga this term.

As for Madrid, they won their first nine games in all competitions this season - two short of the club’s all-time record - but Carlo Ancelotti’s side slipped off the top of LaLiga when they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Osasuna two weeks ago. Antonio Rüdiger’s late goal in Warsaw this week means they are still unbeaten this term, though, and they kept pace with Barça in the league with a 1-0 victory at Getafe six days ago.

Madrid seek revenge for March drubbing

In the 23 home games that Madrid have played in LaLiga since Ancelotti returned as head coach in summer 2021, Los Merengues have suffered just one defeat. It came, I’m sure you hardly need reminding, in the most recent Clásico at the Bernabéu - and it was a memorable one, to say the least. Only four months after Xavi’s appointment as Camp Nou boss, Barça produced a swashbuckling, dominant display to win 4-0 in the Spanish capital in March, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang helping himself to a brace either side of goals by Ronald Araújo and Ferran Torres. The rout ended a run of five successive Clásico triumphs for Madrid, and on Sunday leaves Barça with the opportunity to register back-to-back wins over their old foes for the first time since under Ernesto Valverde in early 2019 (unless you count July’s 1-0 victory in a Las Vegas preseason friendly, which you really shouldn’t).

Barça won 4-0 in the last Bernabéu Clásico.
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Barça won 4-0 in the last Bernabéu Clásico.JESUS ALVAREZ ORIHUELADiarioAS

Real Madrid vs Barcelona: team news

For Real Madrid, the major team news is that goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been ruled out of the Clásico. The Belgian has missed the 14-time European champions’ last four games with sciatica, and Ancelotti told reporters on Saturday: “He hasn’t trained very much over the past couple of weeks and he’s not comfortable. He won’t play tomorrow.” However, Rüdiger will be fit to face Barça despite suffering a head injury in the process of scoring against Shakhtar. The German, who rejoined training on Friday and Saturday, will have to wear a protective face mask. “He’s fine,” Ancelotti said of the defender. “He only needs to wear the mask to make sure that the wound doesn’t reopen. He’s excited. He’s a warrior.” Along with Courtois, Dani Ceballos is also unavailable for Madrid, as the midfielder continues his recovery from a hamstring problem.

Meanwhile, Barcelona were given a boost on Thursday when Jules Koundé returned to training, and Xavi has confirmed that the Frenchman is “100%” fit to play on Sunday. The defender has been out of action since injuring his hamstring on international duty in late September. Héctor Bellerín, Ronald Araújo, Memphis Depay and Andreas Christensen all remain on the sidelines for Barça.

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When, where, how to watch?

The Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona will kick off at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, at 4:15pm local time on Sunday 16 October 2022. In the United States, that’s 10:15am ET/9:15am CT/7:15am PT. Viewers in the US will be able to watch the game on the online streaming service ESPN+.

You’ll also be able to follow live-text coverage of the Clásico here at AS USA. We’ll be building up to the clash throughout the day, before bringing you minute-by-minute commentary of the action.

Who will the Clásico referee be?

The match referee at the Bernabéu will be José María Sánchez Martínez, with Raúl Cabañero Martínez and Juan López Mir assisting the 39-year-old. The fourth official will be Jorge Díaz Escudero, and the video assistant referee will be Alejandro Hernández Hernández.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona: last five competitive meetings

  • March 2022, LaLiga: Real Madrid 0-4 Barcelona
  • January 2022, Spanish Super Cup: Barcelona 2-3 Real Madrid
  • October 2021, LaLiga: Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid
  • April 2021, LaLiga: Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona
  • October 2020, LaLiga: Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid

Video: The history of El Clásico

Real Madrid vs Barcelona: LaLiga El Clásico match preview, team news