El Clasico 2019 – the real acid test for both managers as they look to steady their ship on rough waters.
It undoubtably, has been a nervy start to the season by both Barcelona and Real Madrid. Barca, with the aid of Lionel Messi’s brilliance has managed to remain perfect in the league at home. They were also on a 7-game winning streak before their 2-2 draw against Real Sociedad last Saturday.
The 2-1 win over Inter Milan was impressive enough to believe, Barca might have gotten over some of their defensive issues. But don’t be fooled, the Blaugrana are from their dominant best.
Real Madrid are on a adjustment route of their own. Post the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and a distinctively poor display in the 2019/20 season, the club has really tested Zinedine Zidane’s abilities as a manager. The Frenchman got beaten in the Copal del Rey last term across both fixtures and in the away La Liga tie.
He has remained flexible with his starting XI since retaking his spot at the Santiago Bernabeu hot seat. That means a number of changes can be expected to stop the likes of Lionel Messi. With Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard and Lucas Vazquez out, their is a lack of senior options at wing but don’t rule out the two Brazilian livewires – Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo. Zidane could be tempted to throw in Gareth Bale as well to add a pinch of experience and proven-brilliance into the front three.
Valverde’s best approach will be to get past the high press by the visitors. His defensive numbers will require Sergi Roberto to back the right-back spot. Somehow, the Spaniard plays his best in that position against Real Madrid. His relentless ability to run out of tight spots will be crucial with Messi playing in front of him.
Overall, it will a statement to whichever club manages to win this tie but not one to dictate the season’s ultimate winners. Both teams are level on points in the league and are simply trying to gain a small advantage before the winter break.