After contrasting experiences in the Champions League, these Spanish giants clash in La Liga on Sunday. We look ahead to El Clásico with our Real Madrid vs Barcelona prediction and preview.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona Stats: The Quick Hits

  • The Opta supercomputer makes Real Madrid favourites, with Carlo Ancelotti’s men winning 45.9% of its 10,000 pre-match simulations.
  • Real Madrid haven’t lost any of their last 25 La Liga games (W19 D6), since a 3-1 defeat at Atlético Madrid in September.
  • Barcelona have won 10 of their last 18 away games against Real Madrid in all competitions (D1 L7).

Match Preview

It was certainly a mixed week for these two La Liga giants. Barcelona looked to be on their way to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals when Raphinha put them 1-0 up against Paris Saint-Germain in Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, and ahead 4-2 on aggregate. However, Ronald Araújo’s red card turned the tie on its head, with PSG and Kylian Mbappé fighting back to win 4-1 on the night and send Xavi’s side packing.

Real Madrid also had a big task on their hands in their quarter-final second leg, travelling to defending champions Manchester City, but a hard-fought 1-1 draw in England took it to penalties, with Andriy Lunin the hero as Madrid made it through to the semi-finals at the expense of former Barça boss Pep Guardiola, setting up a final-four clash with another of Guardiola’s former teams, Bayern Munich.

Two teams in contrasting moods will clash at the Santiago Bernabéu on Sunday as Carlo Ancelotti’s men look to strengthen their hold on top spot in La Liga, with Barcelona eager to muscle their way back into the title race.

Eight points separate these two ahead of the latest Clásico with seven league games remaining in Spain. A home win would surely be the end of Barça’s title defence, but should Xavi’s side win they will cut the gap to just five points.

La Liga table after MD 31

It doesn’t bode well for the visitors that Madrid haven’t lost a game in 90 minutes in any competition since their sixth league game of the season, a 3-1 defeat at Atlético Madrid all the way back in September.

Los Blancos are worthy La Liga leaders, having scored the most goals (67) and conceded the fewest (20). They would have scored even more had it not been for the woodwork, with Real Madrid having hit the post or crossbar 16 times in the league this season. That is their highest tally in a single league campaign since 2020-21 (22), though Barcelona have recorded the same number themselves (16 – also joint-most in La Liga with Athletic Club).

In truth, Barcelona haven’t really looked the part of successfully defending their title all season, and it has only been in recent weeks since they overtook Girona to move into second place that they have felt anything like the Barça of old. In fact, after Xavi announced his decision to step down at the end of the season following the chastening 5-3 home defeat to Villarreal in January, they went 13 games unbeaten in all competitions (W10 D3) before that loss to PSG in midweek, which was largely impacted by the early dismissal of Araújo.

Should Barcelona find the net on Sunday they will have scored the club’s 300th goal against Real Madrid in the history of La Liga. The 100th was scored way back in January 1962 when Sándor Kocsis netted in a 3-1 win at the Camp Nou, while Ronaldo was the man to score the 200th in May 1997, also in a home victory for Barça, this time 1-0.

Jude Bellingham scored Madrid’s 300th and 301st La Liga goals against Barcelona in the reverse fixture, and could make another bit of history if he torments the Blaugrana like he did at Montjuïc back in October when Madrid came from behind to win 2-1. Bellingham scored both goals that day, and could become the third Madrid player to score in both games against Barcelona in the same La Liga season in the 21st century after Ruud van Nistelrooy (2006-07) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2014-15).

Of course, Bellingham likely won’t be the only young superstar taking the stage on Sunday. Barça’s Lamine Yamal was taken off early against PSG to make way for Iñigo Martínez following Araújo’s red card, despite providing a terrific assist for Raphinha’s goal, so he should be extra motivated to make an impact here.

Yamal has made two appearances against Real Madrid in all competitions, but this could be the teenager’s first start. At 16 years and 283 days, the winger could become the second-youngest player to start a Clásico in the history of La Liga, missing the record by just three days after Vicente Martínez in October 1941, who started for Barcelona against their old enemy at the age of 16 years and 280 days. 

Unless he makes a dramatic U-turn, which he has insisted numerous times he won’t, this will be Xavi’s final Clásico as Barcelona manager. He has won four and lost five of his nine matches against Real Madrid in all competitions. He will be hoping to improve that record as, among all managers to have taken charge in at least six Clásicos, Xavi has the highest percentage of defeats of anyone (56%).

As for team news, Aurelien Tchouaméni should come back into the side for Madrid after being suspended for the win at Man City, while Thibaut Courtois and David Alaba remain as long-term absentees.

Barcelona also still have long-term injured pair Alejandro Balde and Gavi sidelined.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona Head-to-Head

Real Madrid have won their last three meetings with Barcelona in all competitions, including two this season. On only four previous occasions have Madrid won three Clásico games in a single campaign, the last time being in 2012-13 under José Mourinho when they played each other six times (W3 D2 L1).

Bellingham’s brace gave Los Blancos a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture after Ilkay Gündogan’s early opener, with the England midfielder scoring a dramatic 92nd-minute winner.

Barcelona v Real Madrid stats

The other encounter was a far more comfortable victory for Madrid, winning 4-1 in the Supercopa de España final in January, with Vinícius Júnior’s hat-trick setting Ancelotti’s men on their way. Robert Lewandowski pulled one back in between Vinícius’ second and third goals, and Rodrygo added a fourth for Madrid.

Barcelona can have some hope from the fact they have won 10 of their last 18 away games against Madrid in all competitions (D1 L7), including the most recent; a 1-0 victory in the Copa del Rey semi-finals last season. It is as many wins as the club achieved in their previous 48 away games against their Clásico rivals (W10 D15 L23).

In total, 600 La Liga goals have been scored in the history of El Clásico, with Real Madrid narrowly ahead 301-299. The only two La Liga meetings to have more in the history of the competition are Barcelona vs Athletic Club (611) and Real Madrid vs Athletic Club (610).

Recent Form

Since the aforementioned loss to Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last 25 La Liga matches (W19 D6), their longest unbeaten run in a single campaign in the competition since 1989-90 (G28 W20 D8).

Madrid have won their last four La Liga games and haven’t conceded a league goal at home in their last four outings at the Santiago Bernabéu. Last week saw them win 1-0 away at Mallorca thanks to a goal from Tchouaméni.

Barcelona have not lost any of their last 10 La Liga matches (W8 D2), keeping clean sheets in the last six. They have not had seven or more consecutive clean sheets in the competition since October 2014 under Luis Enrique (G8 W7 D1).

Their last league game was a 1-0 win at Cadiz, with João Félix scoring the only goal.

Opta Power Rankings

The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.

Ahead of kick-off on Sunday, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona Prediction

A win for Real Madrid will give them an 11-point lead at the top of La Liga. The Opta supercomputer predicts they have a strong chance of doing so, with the hosts winning 45.9% of its 10,000 pre-match simulations.

A Barcelona victory would reduce the gap to five points, potentially giving hope to the Catalans of clawing their way back into title contention in the closing weeks of the season. The supercomputer gives Xavi’s side a 25.1% chance of winning, with the draw rated at 28.0%.

Victory for the visitors would be the only outcome that could move the needle of Opta’s season simulations, with Madrid going into this game with a 99.0% chance of winning the title, leaving Barça just a 1.0% likelihood as things stand.

Real Madrid v Barcelona Opta prediction

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