El Clásico 2024: Real Madrid vs F.C. Barcelona

Real Madrid have dominated Spanish football alongside Barcelona for as long as we can remember, and with the two sides continuing to occupy most of the country’s attention, that is likely to continue for decades to come. For now, Real Madrid are ahead but Barcelona are usually ready to come right back to demonstrate their own brilliance. Decades of Spanish political rivalry and footballing fervour serves to make the upcoming Clasico another potentially momentous event.

Match Details Date and Kick-off Time

Here’s everything you need to know about the Liga clash which could decide where the league title goes, and who qualifies for the Champions League.

  • Venue: Santiago Bernabeu
  • Date: Sunday, April 21
  • Kick-off time: 20:00 UK time / 21:00 CET / 15:00 ET

History of the Rivalry

Over the years, the two sides have hit their respective peaks and nadirs when they have clashed on the pitch. During their own periods of dominance they have inflicted heavy defeats and suffered morale-crushing losses, all while not knowing what the next Clasico would bring. We look back at some of the best.

Real Madrid 3 Barcelona 4, March 2014

A hat-trick from Lionel Messi gave his team a huge victory. Andres Iniesta scored first before two from Karim Benzema made it 2-1, before Messi levelled. Cristiano Ronaldo scored from the spot to put Real clear before Sergio Ramos was dismissed, and Messi stepped up with two spot-kicks of his own.

Barcelona 5 Real Madrid, November 2010

One of Barcelona’s biggest ever wins, and their biggest in a Clasico since 1994, saw them dismantle Real Madrid at the Nou Camp. Jose Mourinho watched on as his side fell two behind in the first 20 minutes, with David Villa then adding two more for Pep Guardiola’s men before – you guessed it – a Sergio Ramos red card, and a fifth from Jeffren.

Real Madrid 2 Barcelona 6, May 2009

Another huge win under Guardiola as they were on their way to a league title. Gonzalo Higuain gave the home side the lead, before Thierry Henry levelled and Carles Puyol put the visitors ahead. Two Messi goals bookended a Ramos head, before Henry also notched a second and Gerard Pique made it six.

Real Madrid 4 Barcelona 2, April 2005

Michael Owen and David Beckham came together to give the Galacticos a famous win. Zinedine Zidane and the original Ronaldo scored to put Real two up in the opening 20 minutes, and Samuel Eto’o then scored for Barca. Legendary striker Raul hit back before Beckham assisted Owen. Ronaldinho scored a trademark free-kick, but by then it was too late.

Team Form and Recent Performances

Real Madrid have not tasted defeat since mid-January, and enjoyed a 4-0 win over Celta Vigo after getting past RB Leipzig in the Champions League. Goals from Vinicius Jr. in both matches, and the late strike against Celta from Arda Guler, demonstrates the young, attacking talent at their disposal.

Barcelona have also been steadier in the last couple of months, but in January they suffered a 5-3 humbling at home to Villarreal after losing 4-2 to Athletic Club in their previous match. Robert Lewandowski has grabbed several goals in recent games as he remains dangerous.

Tactical Analysis

Carlo Ancelotti had been rumoured to be on his way out of the club at the end of the season, but instead he signed fresh terms as he prepared the side for the arrival of Kylian Mbappe next season. Joselu may be a bit-part player, but around him, Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni and Vinicius Jr. are showing that the long-term future of Real can be creative and devastating for opponents as they rely on technical excellence and physical prowess.  

With Thibaut Courtois and Eder Militao out with serious knee problems, Kepa, Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba are vital presences at the back.

With Xavi at Barcelona, the team try to play at pace but at the same time attempt to retain possession wherever possible. With players expected to be comfortable across the pitch, they must all press the opposition in an attempt to win back the ball swiftly. Raphinha, Yamal, Ferran Torres and others provide width to open up space and press the opposition defence back.

Key Players and Matchups

Vinicius Jr.: The 23-year-old Brazilian has become more important for Real since the departure of Karim Benzema, and with 16 goals in 27 games so far, he has become a little more incisive in front of goal. Ronald Araujo will need to show his awareness to deal with the forward.

Jude Bellingham: The England international has been one of the standout players in European football since his move last summer from Borussia Dortmund. The 20-year-old is playing as an attacking forward and has contributed 20 goals from 31 appearances already this season. Frenkie de Jong will be expected not to just create, but stifle his opponent’s success.

Robert Lewandowski: The 35-year-old Polish international is showing some signs of decline after years of exceptional consistency, but he remains a leader in the Barca squad and can be ruthless in front of goal. Antonio Rudiger will be well versed in his former Bayern Munich team-mate’s talents.

Lamine Yamal: The 16-year-old right winger looks to be another exceptional youth team product from Barcelona, and he could end the season with double figures, showing an ability to score from outrage distances despite his slight physique. Fede Valverde could be in for a tough time if he starts at left-back.

Recent Encounters

Barcelona have lost each of the last three matches, going down 4-0 in April 2023 in the Copa del Rey, 2-1 in La Liga, and 4-1 in the Spanish Super Cup, both this year. Barca’s last win was a Liga win in March 2023, 2-1, on their way to lifting the league title.

Fan Culture and Atmosphere

With the rivalry stretching back for a century, there remains real antipathy between Real Madrid, the heart of the country’s administration, and Barcelona – who were often oppressed as Catalans by the fascist government of Franco. Resentment persists today and it is often difficult to separate the independence movement from football, but even on the pitch these are the two most successful clubs in Spanish football. When one team is dominating, the other is seething and envious, and in the years they are direct and well-matched rivals, as in the period of Guardiola vs. Mourinho, the enmity can capture the attention of the world, as well as two cities.

Predictions and Expectations

With Barcelona struggling in La Liga this season and the biggest challenge for the title coming from Girona, they will hope to blunt their arch-rivals’ tilt at the title even if ultimately makes little difference for them.

In a one-off match, Xavi is up against it as he juggles injuries to players such as Gavi and Pedri, and as his time at the club will soon be at an end, he may struggle to conjure up the determination he wants from his squad.

For Real, it is a chance to keep in front at the title race and perhaps knock Barcelona off their stride as they chase a top-four finish. They go into the match in better form, and at home, so they are the undoubted favourites with more reason to win.

F.C Barcelona & Socios.com

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