Real Madrid vs Barcelona:-With the two biggest clubs in Spain sitting level on points atop the La Liga table, the first El Clasico of 2022/23 brings a certain extra bite to the Bernabeu as one of the greatest rivalries in world football takes the field.
Real Madrid host Barcelona with the visitors in first place based on the first tiebreaker: goal differential (+19 vs +12). The two sides are both unbeaten, with seven wins and a draw each.
Barcelona have obliterated La Liga competition thus far, with a massive 20 goals scored to just a single goal conceded through the first eight matches of the season, but slips in Champions League play have left them on the brink of group stage elimination in that tournament, and they enter this match desperate for a turnaround result.
Madrid, meanwhile, have the opposite problem, becoming the first Champions League club to confirm a knockout stage place, but forced to work hard for their league results to this point. Of their seven victories, four have come by a single goal, and they have also benefited from a red card shown to their opponents in three different matches.
UK: Sunday’s massive El Clasico tilt will be shown in the United Kingdom on Premier Sports 1 and LaLigaTV. It can be streamed via Premier Player.
USA: The match between Real Madrid and Barcelona from the Bernabeu can be seen in the United States on ESPN Deportes, and streamed on ESPN+ along with all other La Liga matches.
ESPN Deportes is also available to stream on fuboTV, and there’s a special offer $40 off on the Latino package quarterly plan through October 16, available for just $59.
Canada: The match will be broadcast in Canada on TSN3, which is also available to stream via the TSN app or official website.
Australia: Australia’s exclusive broadcaster for La Liga is Optus Sport, who also is the exclusive broadcaster for the Premier League.
Real Madrid vs. Barcelona lineups, team news
Luka Modric has missed time lately this season, but he returned for league action against Getafe last weekend and was brought off the bench against Shakhtar Donetsk midweek, so it’s safe to assume he’ll start in El Clasico on Sunday. His return is a welcome one as Madrid have struggled to progress the ball forward in his absence.
Karim Benzema was left off the squad entirely against Shakhtar, but will return for El Clasico. Vinicius Jr. was also rested midweek, brought off the bench for a 33-minute midweek cameo. He’ll slide back into the lineup in the attack with the struggling Eden Hazard dropping to the bench.
At the back, Antonio Rudiger will be a game-time decision after suffering a bloody forehead gash while scoring his last-gasp equalizer against Shakhtar. Madrid are reportedly testing out mask models to see him fit for action, but his availability will be a late determination. If he can’t go, Nacho Fernandez should retain his place at center-back, with Eder Militao likely to come in after a midweek rest.
Another game-time decision is that of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who has missed the last four matches with a back issue. Reports indicate it will go down to the wire, but they sound doubtful of his ability to prove fit. Andriy Lunin will continue in goal if Courtois misses out.
That leaves just Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia to start at center-back, with Sergi Roberto deputizing at right-back. Xavi will have to decide between sticking with Marcos Alonso at left-back, or bringing Jordi Alba or Alex Balde off the bench.
Up front, Memphis Depay has an injured hamstring, and Ferran Torres has struggled mightily this season, meaning Xavi is likely to stick with Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha flanking Robert Lewandowski.
Real Madrid vs. Barcelona betting odds, pick & prediction
Both these teams have significant flaws coming into this match. Real Madrid have struggled mightily with progression in the absence of Luka Modric, and seeing its attacking moves sputter. Barcelona, meanwhile, have been put to the sword by cataclysmic defensive mistakes.
This should make for an exceptional tactical battle at the Bernabeu. Real Madrid will wish for revenge after the way last season ended, as the Champions League and domestic league double was soured slightly by an inexplicable 4-0 defeat at home to Barcelona in March. Barcelona, meanwhile, are under serious pressure after their Champions League disaster against Inter Milan, and Xavi will be looking to win at all costs.
These two teams have their weaknesses, but injuries could ultimately prove the difference-maker in this match. While Barcelona have been exceptional defensively this season, they have key players missing at the center-back spot. Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen, and Jules Kounde are all out
Pick: Real Madrid to win (+123 on Caesars)
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona