It remains to be seen if Real Madrid will face Barcelona on Dec. 4 or 18 due to an impending lawsuit from La Liga but as things stand, it looks like Los Blancos stand to benefit the most from El Clasico’s postponement.
Firstly, it does make sense that La Liga are trying to ensure maximum “coverage” for what could be one of the most anticipated clashes of the season so far. With the game being scheduled for the 18th of December, it would mean the fixture would be played alongside other Copa del Rey games (Guardian) and even worse that day falls on a Wednesday – meaning it won’t bring peak views as per screening rights and the general decrease in attendance that comes with weekdays.
The El Clasico is that one game that should be played on a weekend and a far separate time from other La Liga games that day so the whole world can focus solely on the high-octane clash. But time would tell what the final decision would be and we can only speculate who will benefit more from things as they stand.
It has not been an ideal return from the international break for Real Madrid. After starting October with a 2-2 draw to Club Brugge, Real managed to pick up a 4-2 win over Granada at the Santiago Bernabeu, entrenching their spot atop La Liga.
That security in first did not last long, because Real lost their first match after the international break in what was supposed to be a “give me” win against newly-promoted Mallorca. But Zinedine Zidane’s heavily-rotated Real side flopped badly, losing 1-0 without so much as a whimper on the attacking end.
It was very nearly the same story on Tuesday for Los Blancos on the road against Galatasaray. But this time, Real managed to secure the points, winning their first Champions League game, courtesy of an 18th-minute strike from the returning Toni Kroos. However, this win was far from a professional one for Zidane’s side, leading to even more concerns revolving around the three-time Champions League-winning manager.
As you can see, Real Madrid are reeling. And while they aren’t in a crisis, that hasn’t stopped fans from bordering on panic following two poor performances, including that unacceptable loss to relegation candidates Mallorca.
Based on the preseason schedule, Real were supposed to face Barcelona in a high-octane clash between La Liga’s top two teams on Saturday, but protests in Catalunya have forced the rivalry to take place in December. Depending on how La Liga’s challenge of the agreed date goes, it looks like Real and Barca could be facing off on Dec. 18.
When the rumours that El Clasico could be pushed back first surfaced, it was unclear which team would benefit the most from the change. While Barcelona themselves are coming off of an unconvincing Champions League win over Slavia Praha, they are first in La Liga, have more individual quality than Real, and look to be playing the better football right now.
That said, it’s important not to underestimate the collection of talent in Real, specifically rising young stars like Fede Valverde in midfield and Rodrygo on the left (or right) flank. These two players have emerged as X-Factor for Real this season, and by December, they could be key components of the starting lineup. Valverde and summer left-back signing Ferland Mendy already look like ideal starters for Los Blancos.
Advantage Real Madrid
With so many new signings and with a few young players needing to earn Zidane’s trust, Real, who are notorious to slow starts, have always looked like a team destined to be stronger in the winter than in the autumn months.
Therefore, moving this pivotal fixture to December helps Real, beyond the fact that it gives them some weeks to “get things right” after up-and-down results in September and October.
This is a Real Madrid side that is still trying to figure things out in Zidane’s second stint as manager, and as discouraging as their on-field performances against Mallorca and Galatasaray have been, they are honestly on the cusp of figuring things out. Their young stars will be key in this effort.
Beyond that, Real have been constantly hurt by injuries early in the season, which has the added effect of preventing Zidane and the players from finding their optimal lineup and chemistry. By December, the likes of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale will be back, and other key players like Mendy and Isco will be 100-percent. Even better that Modric was reported back to training today as per a report on the club’s website. The same report sated Gareth Bale is close to a return but continues to train alone at the moment.
Of course, the unfortunate reality is that some other players may be injured by then, but it’s hard to see this injury crisis getting even worse for Real than it was in the first three months of the 2019-2020 campaign.
Hectic run of fixtures for Barcelona
If things do remain as already proposed (Dec 18), Barcelona are set to face a mammoth run of fixtures in the space of just three weeks. A run of games that could see them have a disadvantage in the build-up to the highly anticipated El Clasico. We can’t predict if either of both teams will slip up before then but what we do know is that if both sides go into the game with a point separating them, it would mean bragging rights as well as who gets to remain top of the La Liga standings.
The new date means that Barcelona will face Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan in the lead up to the highly-anticipated game at the Nou Camp (Skysports).
The Spanish champions host Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday 27 November in the Champions League before travelling to the capital to face Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in La Liga.
A home tie against Real Mallorca is followed quickly by another European tie in Milan on Tuesday 10 December as Lionel Messi come up against an Inter Milan side they had to battle to get a win against in the home tie at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona then travel to San Sebastian to take on Real Sociedad in the league before their mouth-watering tie with Madrid on Wednesday 18 December (Skysports).
It’s a real headache for Valverde as Barca must find the balance of winning all or most of those games while rotating players alongside. And as we know, rotation is never ever straightforward to predict.
Messi’s appetite to break goalscoring records may mean he is reluctant to sit games out but Valverde may have to rely on the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati for the winnable games against Sociedad and Mallorca.
If some other senior members of the squad get rotated as well, the “winnable” games against Sociedad and Mallorca quickly become “tightly contested affairs” and the fact that the lead over Madrid is still a solitary point means there must be no room for complacency right from now till the El Clasico itself.
While Barcelona and their fans might be hoping La Liga do come victorious with their decision to appeal the Dec 18 proposed date, Real Madrid can only worry about their team and aim to get back to good form quickly.