El Centrocampista

El Clásico: The battle for supremacy and the stats that could provide some answers

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Barcelona and Real Madrid resume hostilities on Sunday evening in a match that has already been billed as a title decider. The Camp Nou encounter sees arguably the two best teams in world football take to the field for a game that promises to deliver all the excitement, morbo and quality we have come to expect from the two heavy weights of the Spanish game, however, after a stuttering start Jose Mourinho’s reigning champions face the prospect of falling a daunting 12 points behind their bitter rivals should they lose the game.

After just seven rounds of football played, Barcelona find themselves in a position new coach Tito Vilanova could only have dreamed about at the start of August; victory on Sunday would surely deliver the knock out blow in the race for the La Liga crown. If history tells us anything, however, it is that el clasico normally provides the unexpected and the rule book can normally be thrown aside. With that in mind, let us take a in depth look at some key stats from both teams – something that  may give us a better idea of how proceedings may unfold in Catalunya on Sunday.

Current form

Barcelona clearly have the upper hand in this aspect as they are the only team in Europe who have picked up maximum  points both domestically and in the Champions League. Coach Vilanova´s team has earned 24 points out of 24, scoring 22 goals and conceding only seven in eight matches of football.

Madrid, on the other hand, started the season on the wrong foot and are already eight points behind their bitter rivals – sitting an unconvincing sixth in La Liga. However, they have won two from two in the Champions League.

If we take a look further back, in the last 25 La Liga games played this year Barcelona have won 65 points out of a possible 75, four more points than Madrid during that time. In fact, the Catalans haven’t lost a league game in their last 10 matches, drawing only once. Interestingly, however, their last defeat came against Mourinho’s side at the Camp Nou.

Home advantage

Barcelona clearly also have advantage playing at home. In the last five La Liga seasons (not including this one) Barça have lost just seven from a total of 95 games games played at the Camp Nou and have  lost only one of the last 60. La Blaugrana haven’t lost two consecutive league clasicos at home since 1965.

From a total of 165 clasicos, the away side have won on just 36 occasions; that’s 21,8% of the time with the home side picking the victory  59% of the time.

Madrid’s away form during the last five years has been by no means bad, in fact they have picked up 63 victories from 95 games, however, a look at the stats tells us they traditionally face a difficulties playing at the Camp Nou, despite the fact that they won here last season. Aside from that triumph,  Los Blancos have picked up  just three more victories in the Catalan capital during the last 30 league years.

Top stars current form

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo seem to be fighting each other for every record and trophy available  in recent years and both players will take to the pitch on Sunday in impressive form.

Messi has already scored 10 goals this season, including Champions League and the Spanish Super Cup, and has also chipped in with five assists for his team mates. Ronaldo meanwhile, has scored 12 times – although he is yet to pick up an assist this campaign. Cristiano also seems to have found his rhythm against Barça in recent games and has scored in their last five clasicos.

During the last 25 league matches, Messi seems to have the upper hand over Cristiano as the Argentinean has scored 34 goals while recording 11 assists. The Portuguese is close behind however, and has struck 29 times, recording six assists.

On the subject of records, Messi is one goal away from becoming  the second highest goalscorer in clasico history and in the unlikely event he scores a hat-trick,  the Barcelona star will tie with Alfredo Di Stefano as the most prolific scorers in the history of games between the two sides. Cristiano could also make history himself if he finds the net on Sunday – scoring in six consecutive clasicos is something that has never been done.

Injuries and weaknesses

After the contrasting starts of the two sides, Barcelona are clear favorite to win on home soil on Sunday, nonetheless, Vilanova’s side still have a few question marks over their defensive abilities. After a terrible injury against Benfica, captain Carles Puyol will also miss this derby, while Gerard Piqué is also still very much doubtful for the game.

These injuries problems mean Alex Song and Javier Mascherano could line-up in central defence – two players that have been more accustomed to playing in midfield during the majority of their careers. There are also concerns over the fullback position where an under-performing Dani Alves will play on the right and Jordi Alba, who has been hampered by a niggling injury, will  occupy the left back position.

Worryingly for Tito Vilanova, his side have already conceded five goals at home this season, from the same number of matches, and have managed just two clean sheets. This will certainly provide Barça’s biggest challenge and weakness for this game. If Mou’s side scores early, it could prove a long night for the hosts.

Interestingly, however, Madrid have managed just one clean sheet on the road this season and have struggled when defending set pieces during the opening stages of the new season. Nevertheless, the champions biggest problem so far has been converting chances. Mourinho’s men  have scored only 12 goals in the league from 117 shots, three of those goals have also come from the penalty spot.

Madrid have also flattered to deceive when combining with each other – scoring justfour assisted goals, despite haven made 90 passes that lead to a shot.

Ultimately, however, matches between Barcelona and Real Madrid usually carry that unpredictable factor that makes them worth watching and brings Spain to a standstill, with Real Madrid desperate for victory this season promises to be little different.

One Comment

  1. Delpha Salonek

    9 October, 2012 at 04:20

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