The first Clasico of this campaign takes place at Camp Nou on Saturday with two teams, not in vintage kits. Madrid suffered back-to-back losses against Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk, dumping the pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane.
Real Madrid’s chances depend on Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid’s opportunities of El Clasico success will be strongly influenced by whether captain Sergio Ramos plays, says Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman. The first Clasico of this campaign takes place at Camp Nou on Saturday with two teams, not in vintage kits. Madrid suffered back-to-back losses against Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk, dumping the pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane. Barça, meanwhile, lost to Getafe in their previous LaLiga outing and continue to grapple with out-of-field turbulence after Lionel Messi’s saga in the transfer window and wage debates with the club’s players. Sergio Ramos suffered a knee injury in the Cadiz defeat, and Real Madrid fought without him on Wednesday 3-2 home defeat of the Champions League to Shakhtar.
Ramos is one of the best centre-backs in football
Koeman expects a more compact Madrid regardless of whether Ramos – who is set to return to the squad – is fit to play from the start, but admits that the Spain international will have a significant impact if available. “I’m sure they are not going to leave the places they left in the last games,” Koeman said at his pre-match press conference. “We will expect a more compact Madrid, with fewer seats, and it is important for them that Ramos is there. He is one of the best centre backs and has a great personality on the pitch. Ramos could have an impact on Real Madrid on Saturday.” Facing an out-of-sorts Madrid will boost Koeman, given Barça have not been able to score in their last two league Clasicos. A failure to net again would equal their worst-ever run, previously recorded in 1958.
Koeman does not expect a vulnerable Real Madrid
Asked about the Madrid fight, Koeman added: “First we have to prepare ourselves. They have quality on the ball. Like any team and coach, when you make mistakes, you want to improve, but neither they nor we will miss motivation. Their players have a high level of experience. On the contrary, I am not expecting a vulnerable Real Madrid. Jordi Alba returned to Barça after a thigh injury against Sevilla on 4 October. When asked if the defender can start, Koeman said: “The player always has the final say. He knows if he is suitable for the game or not. I also have to talk to the medical team, so we are going to wait. I see everything very positively, but you have to wait if there is a reaction in training. Yes or no. If not, he has a good chance of playing.”
Clásico will also see Lionel Messi look to finish his second-longest goalscoring drought in the fixture. He didn’t score in the 425 minutes of Clásico’s action, and his last 16 shots against Real Madrid not being converted. Messi is, however, the top scorer in Clásico history with 26 goals and also has the most goals in Clásico league meetings at Camp Nou.