Real Madrid v Barcelona Preview

With the latest edition of the world’s greatest game edging ever closer, it’s time to analyse the players on form going into the game, how the two teams have fared recently and which team will come out on top – Real Madrid or Barcelona?

The home team, Madrid, have been in mixed form recently, and since their 0-2 victory over Malmo in September, they have had 4 wins, two draws, and, most recently, a 3-2 defeat against Sevilla, who have also beaten Barcelona this season, despite sitting 10th place in mid-table mediocrity. They sit second in the table behind Barca themselves, but with a win could go top due to the head-to-head rule. Their star player, a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, is hitting a slightly rough patch, but, as we all know, form is temporary, but class is permanent, and it will surely be only a matter of time before he starts scoring again, and of course, he and the rest of the Madrid faithful will hope that is Saturday night. Looking at their defence, which has been solid all season, keeper Keylor Navas is lucky to be playing football at all this season, as he would almost certainly be sitting on the bench if the disastrous De Gea hadn’t been so, well, disastrous. But he is playing, and he’s pulled it out of the bag so far this season, and even with the form of Neymar and Suarez in Messi’s absence, it will be a real challenge for Barcelona to get past the Costa Rican international. Also in defence, it is uncertain whether or not centre-back Sergio Ramos will start after picking up a shoulder injury in the process of scoring a stunning acrobatic goal in the defeat by Sevilla a fortnight ago, and it has been suggested that the Spaniard may play on pain-killers.

Looking at Barcelona, where else is there to start than with the scintillating form of Neymar and Luis Suarez, who have scored 26 goals between them this season, with 13 goals each. The Azulgranas come into the game off the back of 3 wins in their last 4 games, and last week, a confident 3-0 victory over Villarreal saw a Luis Suarez penalty along with two goals from Neymar, the second being an outrageous piece of skill from the Brazilian.

So, Barcelona are on form, Real slightly shaky, but as they say – the form book goes out of the window on derby day – and this isn’t any old derby.

La Liga: The annual two horse race is bigger than ever

As the Premier League season looks all done and dusted with Chelsea almost certainly going to win the title under Mourinho once again, in La Liga, it is definitely not the case. It may be another ‘two horse race’ as they call it between Barcelona and Real Madrid, but after each team taking turns to take the throne and be the dominant force in Spain, (apart from last year when Atletico won it) this year it is looking closer than ever, and after the recent change of hands after Barcelona’s triumph in El Clasico, the situation currently stands that Barcelona are two points clear of the ‘Galactico’s’, but, fear not Madrid fans, as Barca still have to face Atletico Madrid and local rivals Espanyol, and it may well mean that Barcelona cannot afford to drop any points for the rest of the season, that is, as long as Real don’t drop any either.

Not only are Barcelona and Real Madrid seemingly closer than ever, but their two star players are also both hitting top form this year, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo, despite winning the Ballon D’Or, seemed to dip in form after receiving the award, but that all changed when he scored five goals in Real’s clash with Granada in which Madrid won the game a staggering 9-1. As for Messi, he has also been scoring plenty of hat-tricks himself in 2015, and both players seem to be in the form of their lives, only further increasing the battle between the two arguably best clubs in Europe and the world.

With six games to go, it is set to be a huge climax to the season, and I can only give one piece of advice: don’t put any bets on it!

Match Report #3 Barcelona 5-0 Levante

On Sunday afternoon Barcelona entertained Levante at the Camp Nou, and thrashed them 5-0, as a certain Lionel Messi bagged his 5th hat-trick of another great season.

It didn’t take long for Barca to open the scoring, when in the 17th minute, Lionel Messi’s in swinging cross found Neymar, who scuffed the finish high into the air, but, as they say, when your luck’s in, your luck’s in, and Neymar’s weird attempt looped over a helpless Diego Marino in the Levante goal.

Then, in the 39th minute, Barca proved that they are most dangerous in the ten minute spell before half time, when Marc Bartra pounced on a mistake before sliding a neat ball through to Lionel Messi who slotted his chance into the far corner with his right foot. This goal came just after Messi was denied what would have been a fabulous goal as he was ruled to have been offside, when later replays suggested that he was in fact well onside.

In the second half Barcelona began to turn up the heat, and some good work from Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez set up Messi for another goal with his right foot, tapping in a volley for Barca’s third.

And it didn’t take long for the sensational Messi to complete his 5th hat-trick of the season, as he calmly slotted home his penalty. This came after Messi had openly said he gets nervous over penalties. The last penalty he took was against Elche in an emphatic 0-6 win, and he did score, however he opted out of taking one against Villarreal, leaving Neymar on penalty duty. Unfortunately, Neymar couldn’t convert against the club he had scored from the spot against last season, which meant Messi had to take his chance against the team that he had missed against earlier in the season, in another 5-0 win, but this time he did score, putting the game beyond doubt and taking the scoreline to 4-0.

Later on, Luis Enrique chose to replace Neymar with what looked like a somewhat frustrated Luis Suarez, who had been put on the bench behind Pedro in the starting line up. Suarez then took his only real opportunity of his 20 minute cameo, and showed everyone why he should have been playing from the start, with an incredible bicycle kick. As Adriano’s great first touch took him to the by-line following a great diagonal pass from Javier Mascherano, he wipped in the cross towards the hungry striker, and just when it looked like it had been pulled back too far behind him, Suarez demonstrated his incredible athletic abilities to score a wonderful goal and complete the match.