It’s the latest El Clásico of the 2022-23 season and arguably the most important, as Real Madrid try to keep pace with Barcelona at the top of LaLiga. We look ahead to the derby with our Barcelona vs Real Madrid prediction and Opta data-led preview.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid: The Quick Hits
- The Opta supercomputer gives Barcelona a 42.7% chance of beating Real Madrid in Sunday night’s LaLiga game.
- Real Madrid have won on their last two visits to the Camp Nou and are looking for a hat-trick of away wins for just the second time ever.
- Barcelona have a 94.2% of winning their first league title since 2018-19 when Lionel Messi was still at the club.
Real Madrid travel to Barcelona on Sunday night with a win necessary to keep their slim title hopes alive. The good news for Carlo Ancelotti’s side is that they have been the better side in this head-to-head in recent times, with Real Madrid winning five of their last six matches against Barcelona in Spain’s LaLiga. Prior to that stretch of games, Barcelona went seven unbeaten (W4 D3).
Real Madrid have won their last two visits to Camp Nou in LaLiga – they have only won three in a row away against Barcelona once before in LaLiga between January 1963 and February 1965. It’ll be a hard task to make it three this weekend, as Barcelona have not lost any of their 12 home games in LaLiga this season (W10 D2), their best unbeaten start at home at this stage of the season since 2019-20.
Barcelona hold a nine point lead at the top of the Spanish top-flight table with 13 league games to play. Our Opta supercomputer predictions give Xavi’s side a 94.2% chance of winning the league, and collecting all three points would surely be the death knell for Real’s hopes of a surprise title.
Between the Copa del Rey and LaLiga, Barcelona could be on for a treble after already winning the Spanish Super Cup. Real Madrid, on the other hand, have a Champions League quarter-final with Chelsea to come along with hopes of turning the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg back in their favour after losing the first leg 1-0 to Barcelona two weeks ago.
The Blaugrana look like a different team without Pedri and the general feeling was that he would have a good chance of returning for the Clásico. At training on Friday, however, his hamstring didn’t feel right and he might not make it back in time for Sunday’s showdown. Meanwhile, Ousmane Dembélé remains out and they will not risk him. Karim Benzema is likely to be ruled out for the visitors after suffering a knock against Liverpool after scoring the only goal of the game and most of Madrid’s attacking output will fall on Vinícius Júnior, who has had himself quite a few battles scrapes with Ronald Araujo in recent Clásico history. Get ready for another one at kick-off on Sunday night.
Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona: 2 March 2023 (Copa del Rey)
Barcelona and Real Madrid have met each other three times already this season. They still have to play a Copa del Rey semi-final second leg with Barcelona holding a 1-0 advantage going into that in two weeks time. The first Clásico ended with a 3-1 Real Madrid victory at the Santiago Bernabeu but since then, Barcelona have improved. They won the Spanish Super Cup 3-1, Xavi’s first title as the manager. They hold the most slender of leads going into the outstanding Copa del Rey game.
The first leg of that game was a strange one with Barcelona sitting back and soaking up pressure and trying to hit Real Madrid on the counter after taking the lead. It looked like the two teams had switched jerseys such was Madrid’s domination of the ball. Carlo Ancelotti said if Madrid played the same way in the second leg then they would surely go through. Xavi had to answer questions over his betrayal of Barcelona’s style.
In this 1-0 defeat, Real Madrid failed to attempt a single shot on target – the first time that they failed to do this in a competitive home game since 2010.
Xavi is 51 league games into his tenure as the manager of Barca. During his time in charge, Barcelona have scored 1.88 goals per game, lower than any of the last seven managers since before Pep Guardiola. They have only conceded at a rate of 0.61 goals per game, which is the lowest figure since before Pep’s era too. They have kept 29 clean sheets during Xavi’s time, which is 55% of the games. There have been some questions about Xavi’s commitment, or lack thereof, to Barcelona’s style of play. That has been evident in their recent score lines.
They won their last two games 1-0 against Valencia and Athletic Bilbao but ‘suffered’, as the Spanish say, in an effort to hold on to those leads. They lost their game before that to Almería. Barcelona might have built up an uncatchable lead at the top of the table but both Atlético and Real Madrid will be kicking themselves that they haven’t stayed closer as the business end of the year comes in to view. Questions and doubts will continue to swirl around the Camp Nou over Xavi until they start to win in the way Barcelona are used to but he is getting results. For now, at least, that’s the main thing.
It’s hard to know where Real Madrid’s focus lies this season. They beat Liverpool convincingly in the Champions League and have drawn Chelsea in the quarter-final, a fixture they will surely be eyeing with relish. They have two draws (Atlético Madrid and Real Betis) and one victory (Espanyol) in LaLiga recently along with that loss to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg. They are the first team to reach 50 goals scored in LaLiga this season and can turn it on when it matters most, it seems. They have the fifth highest Expected goals total (51.1) in the top five European leagues this season, behind PSG (58.6), Manchester City (57), Arsenal (53.4) and Bayern Munich (53.2) and they are unbeaten in their last five LaLiga matches (W3 D2). That is their second-longest unbeaten run in the competition this season after not losing any of their first 12 games this term (W10 D2).
Barcelona: Robert Lewandowski
Barcelona’s big summer signing has gone cold. That might sound strange to say about a player who has scored 25 goals in all competitions this season but he has only scored two in nine in LaLiga since football returned after the World Cup and he only managed one in the Europa League loss to Manchester United — a penalty.
Raphinha, a player who started the season much slower following his move from Premier League club Leeds United, has warmed up and is now Barcelona’s most potent attacking threat. The Brazilian scored the winner recently against Athletic Bilbao with Lewandowski struggling to impact the game.
Ferran Torres has scored in both of his games for Barcelona in LaLiga against Real Madrid (two goals in total), and if he scores, he will become only the second player from either team to score in their first three Clásicos in the competition in the 21st century after Samuel Eto’o in 2005 (three).
But these are the games Barcelona bought Lewandowski for and will need him to shine in one of them soon.
Real Madrid: Eduardo Camavinga
When Aurélien Tchouaméni signed from Monaco last summer after Kylian Mbappé did a u-turn and decided to stay at PSG, Eduardo Camavinga was said to be the man to lose out.
The 20-year-old was seen as more of a work in progress for Los Blancos than Tchouaméni. Since the return of the World Cup, Camavinga has carved out a role for himself in Ancelotti’s plans and might just be the most important player in the squad in terms of versatility. Ferland Mendy and David Alaba have struggled with injury and Nacho isn’t always available to play.
The French midfielder has played a significant chunk of his minutes as a left-back, plugging a very necessary hole in Real Madrid’s team. More recently, it seems Camavinga might be ahead of Tchouaméni in Ancelotti’s plans. He started both Champions League last 16 legs against Liverpool and did a fine job in both.
Mendy and Alaba remain injured and Camavinga will no doubt play a significant role again no matter where he is deployed.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid Prediction
Barcelona are struggling with one very important injury to Pedri and it seems to have thrown the balance of the entire team off. But they keep getting victories. They don’t need one as much as Real Madrid do in this game, but the Opta supercomputer still sees a home win as the most likely outcome. It gives FC Barcelona a 42.7% chance of victory on Sunday.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side are still in the running for a treble. LaLiga is a tall order and a victory on Sunday is imperative to keep the hopes of a treble alive. The Supercomputer just can’t see it happening and gives Madrid just a 28.3% chance of winning three in a row at the Camp Nou for just the second time ever.