Five major questions that will be answered by El Clasico

16 March 2023

Five major questions that will be answered by El Clasico

It can be a lazy cliché to describe an El Clasico as a “season-defining” game in LaLiga, but the old adage is surely relevant going into Sunday’s edition at Camp Nou (streaming live on Showmax Pro on 19 March 2023, courtesy of SuperSport).

A win for Barcelona would mean a 12-point lead over their rivals with 12 matches to play, which would have a pretty insurmountable look about it if you’re Real Madrid. You wouldn’t bet on Barcelona dropping 12 points on their own in that run-in, let alone Real Madrid making up a gap of that size.

A win for Real Madrid would result in them being six points behind Barcelona, which would flicker more life back into the title race. Los Blancos would also be boosted by knowing that if they did finish level on points with their rivals, they would come out as champions via the head-to-head rule they use as a tiebreaker in Spain.

Are Barcelona able to do it when it counts without Messi?

While a LaLiga title would always be a celebrated achievement, a 27th for Barcelona would have extra significance as the first one since the great Lionel Messi left the club.

While a generational talent awed the Catalan faithful, there was always the criticism that the team were over-reliant on an individual to bring them success (especially in his later years at the club).

El Clasico was an occasion when Messi used to thrive, particularly if they met in the second half of the season. It seemed that the more pressure there was on the fixture, the more he flourished.

This weekend’s battle will bring a new type of pressure to many Barcelona players that have yet to experience a successful LaLiga title run-in. Will they have a hero to grab the game by the scruff of the neck like Messi could?

Can the old masters at Real school the new stars at Barca?

If you’re one of those who have been waiting for the abilities of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos to fade with age, then you will have to keep waiting.

Recently, the midfield pair have been as masterful as ever and they will relish another chance to dictate play on one of the biggest stages.

Can some of the younger Barcelona talent nullify the two greats? Or will it be more a case of the old dogs performing the same tricks?

Lewandowski or Benzema?

They’re a similar age, they have similar roles and have similar world class pedigrees. The stage is set for two classic strikers to battle it out for the headlines.

Robert Lewandowski is the current leading scorer in his debut LaLiga season with 15 goals, but Karim Benzema will fancy his chances of catching him as he sits four goals behind.

In the UEFA Champions League, Lewandowski has more career goals, but Benzema has been on the winning side more often when they’ve met and has more titles.

It’s a heated debate for fans and great popcorn time for neutrals.

Xavi or Ancelotti?

One is young and entrusted with rebuilding past club success. The other is experienced and is entrusted with maintaining recent success.

Xavi and Carlo Ancelotti are not only fascinating contrasts as managers, but they are perfect symbols for the current state of their respective clubs.

Xavi has already overseen five El Clasicos in his short reign at Barcelona and has won more than he’s lost.

Ancelotti has lost more than he’s won in the fixture, but boasts more than double the experience of his counterpart.

Both managers will know that that this fixture carries more weight than others in determining whether they’re doing a good job or not. Who will get the better of the passionate off-field battle?

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