Real Madrid and Barcelona will face off in the first Clasico of the 2015-16 campaign on Saturday, with the Catalans taking a three-point lead at the top of the Liga table to the Santiago Bernabeu. The match will be the 230th edition of one of football’s best rivalries.
Barcelona and Real have enjoyed solid starts to the season and were tied for the lead in the standings until Los Blancos lost at Sevilla onMatchday 11. A loss against the Blaugrana would see their deficit grow to six points, and while it’s too early to panic, such a gap would give Barcelona a serious advantage moving forward.
Fortunately for Los Blancos, history is on their side, as they still hold the advantage in Clasico matchups, particularly at home.
Here’s a look at the full head-to-head record, courtesy of footballzz.co.uk:
Saturday’s match will be played at the iconic Santiago Bernabeu, and Real’s numbers at home look particularly impressive:
The two teams have split their last six meetings evenly, and Real have triumphed in their last two home fixtures. The last time Barcelona beat Real at the Bernabeu was their infamous 4-3 win in 2014:
Barcelona have won their last four matches in La Liga, surviving comfortably without the services of star forward Lionel Messi. The Argentina international hasn’t played since September and faces a race against the clock to be fit in time for the Clasico.
If he doesn’t make it, El Clasico will be without its all-time top scorer.Messi has struck 21 goals, which is three more than Real Madrid’s top scorer, Alfredo Di Stefano, per Goal. Ronaldo is Real’s current highest scorer with 15 goals.
Messi is joined on the injury list by Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, who damaged his shoulder attempting a spectacular overhead kick against Sevilla.
Barcelona forward Luis Suarez believes that if the two do play, they won’t be targeted, per Sky Sports: “I am not going to go looking for [Ramos’] shoulder, in the same way nobody is going to look for Messi‘s knee. We are fellow football players and we do not want to hurt anyone.”
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Suarez and Neymar have stepped up in Messi‘s absence, and the two currently lead the Liga scoring table ahead of Real’s Ronaldo.
Los Blancos had won their last three La Liga matches before the defeat at the hands of Sevilla, which followed a shaky performance against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. Real won that match 1-0, but PSG dominated possession and created far more chances at the Bernabeu.
That’s not to say Los Blancos can’t attack, however. Per WhoScored.com, they still lead La Liga in goals scored.
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Xavi Hernandez, Manuel Sanchis and Francisco Gento share the record for most Clasico appearances, with 42 matches each. Xavi had a unique opportunity to take sole possession of the record, but he left Barcelona for Al Sadd last summer. Of the current generation, AndresIniesta has more appearances than any other player, with 31.
Real Madrid’s biggest home win in Clasico history came during the 1942-43 season, when they thrashed Barcelona 11-1.
That match was played in highly controversial circumstances, though. There are even allegations the Barcelona players received a visit from Spain’s director of state security before the match, which resulted in the Catalans throwing the game, per Scott Murray of the Guardian.
The Catalans’ biggest-ever win at theBernabeu came during the 1973-74 season, when they blasted Real 5-0. Barcelona have beaten Real by five goals several times, but never by a bigger margin in official matches.
There have been plenty of goals over the course of this historic rivalry, with Real holding a slim lead in the all-time rankings. Los Blancos have managed to put 388 goals past the Catalan goalkeepers, against 371 for Barcelona.
Punters may want to bet on a 1-1 outcome, as that has been the most common result whenever these two teams have met in Madrid: Out of 115 matches across all competitions, 14 have finished with that score. The two sides haven’t played out a draw in six consecutive meetings, but that’s still well short of the record of 18 straight matches without a draw.
The odds of the match going goalless are slim: Both clubs are on historic scoring streaks in El Clasico, with the Blaugrana setting a new personal best if they find the net on Saturday. The Catalans have scored in 17 straight, while Real have done so in 16.