REAL MADRID vs FC BARCELONA: Preview, Team News and Prediction

Barcelona face Real Madrid in a hugely significant Clásico with respect to the title race
Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League
Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League / Anadolu/GettyImages

After a highly disheartening and morale crushing loss to PSG to add to the list of European humiliations, Barcelona turn their focus to La Liga in a desperate and final attempt to salvage their season. This season's final El Clásico beckons upon us at the Bernabéu and anything but a win would effectively end Barcelona's title challenge, bringing the curtains down to a season which promised a lot but yielded very little.

Whilst the 4-1 loss against Paris to crash out 6-4 on aggregate would rank alongside the heartbreaks at Rome and Anfield. The grit and performance on display makes it an even tougher pill to swallow for Barça were by far the better side after 2/3rd of the two-legged tie but for a refereeing error to put the breaks on the wheel.

Barcelona have been one of the best teams in Europe since February but the manner of the defeat on Tuesday would sure have multiple repercussions besides some alleged dressing room spat. İlkay Gündoğan publicly lashed out at Araújo's recklessness and a number of Barça players since then have come out in a desperate attempt to cool things down and deny the possible rift in the changing room. The two players would be of paramount importance come Sunday and Barcelona cannot afford a hostile dressing room at a time wherein the manager requires all his players to come together.

With 7 league match days to go, Barcelona are 8 points behind their arch nemesis Real Madrid in the points table. The road to ascendency starts at the Bernabéu this Sunday as the Catalans have a chance to curb the deficit to 5 points and carry a glimmer of hope going into the last 6 games. Xavi Hernández would be back on the touchlines after serving his two game ban for what might well be the final Clásico of his managerial career. Xavi’s era in Barcelona has been defined by 3 hugely significant Clásico triumphs (4-0 at the Bernabéu in 2022, 3-1 in the 2023 Supercopa Final, and a 2-1 victory at the Camp Nou to seal the 2022-23 La Liga), and he hopes for a repeat of the results to end his Barcelona chapter on a high.

Real Madrid come into this game on the back of a shootout win vs Manchester City and it is hard to imagine them not winning an unprecedented 15th Champions League title. Madrid scored an early goal and defended for their lives for the rest of the tie, happy to concede possession and play on the counter. Ancelotti's side are very clear about their brand of football which might not look elegant to the naked eye but yields results and trophies, something which has been synonymous with the club from the capital.

Barcelona and Madrid have both won their last 4 La Liga games but had to fight their way out to a 1-0 victory last weekend against Cádiz and Mallorca, respectively. Even if they were to lose the Clásico, the League would still very much be Madrid's to lose, but for Xavi Hernández's Barcelona, anything but 3 points from the Spanish Capital would render their final 6 matches a mere formality.

Madrid hold a 2-0 edge over Barcelona in the 2023-24 Clásico's. The return La Liga fixture at Montjuïc saw Barcelona roll back the clock to their glory years playing fast, exciting football for 65 minutes but could manage a solitary goal due to poor finishing. Jude Bellingham's rocket of a shot in the 68th minute was the shot in the arm that Madrid needed, fuelling them to a comeback win in the 92nd minute to break the hearts of millions of Culers.

In the Super Cup final, the Blaugrana were outplayed 4-1, resulting in their worst Clásico performance in the past 7 years. Youngsters Lamine and Pau Cubarsí have taken over since that fateful night in Saudi Arabia but the team still has to put up a collective hand if they are to silence the home crowd and reignite their La Liga hopes.



Barcelona have a physically fit squad but their mental toughness following the PSG debacle is what would shape the course of the Clásico. Barcelona head into this game with a fully available squad aided by the return of Lewandowski, Cancelo and Iñigo who were all suspended for the game at Cádiz.

Christensen missed out midweek vs PSG and his absence as a pivot was noticeable. He would be in for a direct shootout for a midfield spot alongside Pedri with Gündoğan and Frenkie de Jong for certain starters. Barcelona evidently missed Lamine Yamal’s pace and Barcelona evidently missed Lamine Yamal’s pace and eagerness in the final third after he was sacrificed midweek due to Araújo's red card. He should form a formidable attack with Lewandowski and arguably the best player across the two legs against PSG; Raphinha. 

Predicted XI (4-3-3);

Marc-André ter Stegen, Joules Koundé, Ronald Araújo, Pau Cubarsí, João Cancelo, Frenkie de Jong, İlkay Gündoğan, Andres Christensen, Lamine Yamal, Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha


Real Madrid have a clean slate per injury crisis. Lunin has ensured that Madrid haven't missed Courtois' absence in goal pulling off one stellar performance after another. Lukas Modrić might well be in line for his final Clásico appearance and the Ballon D'Or winning Croat would be determined to make it a memorable one.

Vinícius was man-marked by Kyle Walker midweek but his battle against Araújo and Koundé on the right would shape the outcome of this fixture. Rodrygo and Bellingham would be looking to take advantage on Cancelo's side of the pitch but would have to get past Pau Cubarsí who has arguably been Barcelona's best defender since his debut. 

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1);

Andriy Lunin; Ferland Mendy, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Antonio Rüdiger, Dani Carvajal; Toni Kroos, Eduardo Camavinga; Jude Bellingham, Federico Valverde, Rodrygo; Vinícius Júnior


Until the 30minute mark in the tie vs PSG, Culers would have definitely been imagining a UCL Semi Final appearance and a title changing victory at the Bernabéu. Araújo's red card drastically changed the entire scheme of things and optimism has taken a back seat in the Barcelona camp. They might be physically up for the battle but the mental exhaustion from the match which was theirs to lose might be a step too far to recover from.

Real Madrid 2-1 FC Barcelona