The Clasico is always billed as a blockbuster. It is usually a thriller, sometimes a horror story for one of the two sides. But this Saturday, with 99,000 empty seats, it will feel more like a silent movie, and a very strange movie too.
Rarely have both clubs entered the game in so much turmoil. Madrid are in pieces after two of their worst performances under Zinedine Zidane. And in bits and pieces, Barcelona is a constant in the Catalan capital with boardroom dramas.
Madrid is also suffering from the field as far as they share Barcelona’s financial concerns. And not everything is perfect on the field for Barça, who slipped to Getafe last weekend, making it the first day in which both the big two had lost without scoring since 2000.
Real Madrid are reeling from a 3-2 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League
Zinedine Zidane is under increasing pressure for El Clasico on Saturday
Real’s rocky shape as LaLiga holders set the stage for a surprise title winner this season
It was in May of the 1999-2000 season that Barça lost 2-0 to Rayo Vallecano, while Real Madrid was defeated 1-0 by Alaves. The Clasicos ended that season 3-0 for Real Madrid and 2-2. Deportivo won the competition.
There is a sense that ‘someone else’ could also win the league this season as Madrid continues to stumble and Barcelona collapses under the weight of the boardroom turmoil.
After losing 3-2 to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, the media in Madrid speculated on who would have been the most laughed at had the defeat taken place in a full Santiago Bernabéu.
‘On the way to Europa League’ was a sarcastic headline. In this group that may not be beyond Real Madrid’s capabilities.
A columnist accused Zidane of choosing the team by throwing oranges in the air and watching where they land. He’s not currently helped by injuries from Eden Hazard and Martin Odegaard who were meant to make a difference at the end of a summer marked by a lack of signings for the first time in 20 years, but there is a ‘luck dip’ – element. to his XIs with wild changes of two wingers in a 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 with no wingers.
On Wednesday evening, he put Vinicius and Benzema on the bench, even though Madrid missed their captain on the other side of the field.
Much was made of the chaos that always ensues when Sergio Ramos is missing and it is true that Madrid lost to Manchester City and Ajax, Juventus and PSG without him but he was there in the first half of the weekend and it was his fault that led to Cadiz’s goal, so this isn’t just about missing one key player.
Barcelona’s problems on the field seem much smaller. What to do with Griezmann is Koeman’s biggest headache right now. Madrid would love to have the French on their team. Barcelona’s cast of 1,000 forwards (Messi, Ansu Fati, Dembele, Pedri, Francisco Trincao) may be missing a center-forward, but it beats Madrid’s exhausted side without a doubt at this point.
At Barcelona, Lionel Messi’s form has improved after trying to leave in the summer
Barcelona and Ronald Koeman’s attack options far outweigh rival Real’s
Koeman is on his way to his first Clasico as Barca boss – he only played against Real as a player
That’s the most striking thing about this Madrid team – there’s nothing to get excited about and nothing to rely on. At the moment, the £ 163 million (180 million euros) on Hazard and Luka Jovic appears to be badly spent.
Young Brazilians Vinicius and Rodrigo Goes are not making enough progress under Zinedine Zidane and as Marco Asensio is unable to have a consistent impact on matches, it is a Madrid team that no longer scares the opposition defense.
While things are not too bad on the field for Barcelona right now, the club continues to stumble from one drama to another. There is an expected income deficit of £ 271 million (300 million euros) this season, which can only be addressed by major cuts in labor costs.
The tactic of persuading players to actually receive the same amount, but over a longer period of time, has worked with Frenkie de Jong, Gerard Pique, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Clement Lenglet who all have extended contracts, but not so far . , with others.
Meanwhile, a petition to enforce a referendum on whether the board should be able to await its term in office until March 2021, a petition requiring 16,500 names gathered more than 20,000.
Off the field in Barcelona, there is a board crisis with very low confidence in Josep Bartomeu
There is a steadily growing conversation for Raul (center) to replace Zidane as Real’s manager
Only the difficulties of staging the referendum during a pandemic may now delay the president’s being dumped for December with elections in January.
Madrid is not showing the same overt signs of chaos, but is also bracing for a massive drop in sales.
The big two in Spain are making more money from football tourism and packed stadiums than, arguably, any club in Europe and nothing like a Clasico behind closed doors will remind them of what they are currently missing.
Never before has the fixture taken place without fans – every groan from the technical room can be heard. Koeman only knows about playing against Madrid. He has won six times with three draws and five losses during his career.
Zinedine Zidane has never lost as a coach at the Nou Camp so far, with two wins and three draws. His position will be scrutinized more than ever when he leaves us this time.
A soft campaign around Real Madrid Castilla coach Raul as his replacement is already starting to gain momentum. It will take another gear on Saturday as Real Madrid lose the weirdest from Clasicos.
At Real, their attack options have been partially exhausted due to Eden Hazard’s injury