Barcelona will have the opportunity to strike a knockout at its rival, Real Madrid, and go a long way towards winning the Spanish Football League title, if it emerges victorious from the “El Clasico” match that brings them together on Sunday at the “Spotify Camp Nou” stadium in the twenty-sixth stage.
Barcelona has not achieved the league title since 2019, led by Ernesto Valverde, and winning Sunday’s match will make Xavi Hernandez’s men 12 points away from the Royal Club in the lead.
Winning the title would be a well-deserved reward for Xavi’s efforts to restore the team to its previous position, despite the severe financial crisis that prompted the club to abandon its Argentine legend, Lionel Messi, in favor of Paris Saint-Germain.
And club president Joan Laporta knew how to deal with the difficult financial situation and made the very influential contracts to include Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, Frenchman Jules Conde and Brazilian Rafinha by selling future TV rights.
But the exit from the group stage of the European Champions League, and then from the qualifying playoffs to the final price of the “Europa League” at the hands of Manchester United, showed that the path of return among the greats of the continent is still long.
In the first confrontation between the two teams this season, Real came out victorious 3-1 in October, but the Xavi team has developed a lot since then and showed this development by beating the Royal Club with the same result in the Super Cup final in January, and then with a score of 1-0 away from home in The second of this month in the first leg of the cup competition semi-finals.
And unlike the Super Final, which Barcelona completely dominated, Real was the best party by a large margin in the first leg of the Cup semi-finals, but a friendly fire goal by his Brazilian defender Eder Militao dropped him in his stronghold and complicated matters for the Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti’s team, who was ecstatic from reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League, by renewing its victory over Liverpool, England, 1-0 in Madrid, after sweeping it away from home 5-2.
Barcelona fans are waiting for Sunday’s match to find out how Xavi’s approach will be, demanding that he perform much better than the cup match, but the problem facing the Catalan club is that he needs the return of the “midfield maestro” Pedri.
Pedri was the main influencing factor in Barcelona’s attacking style this season, but in light of his absence, which has lasted six matches so far in all competitions due to a thigh injury, with the possibility of his return on Sunday, Xavi was forced to focus on defensive solidity to emerge victorious.
In the first leg of the Cup semi-finals, the French attacking duo of Real, Karim Benzema and the Brazilian Vinicius Junior, found it difficult to deal with the defense, especially the “Seleção” striker, who collided with the quarrelsomeness and toughness of Uruguayan Ronald Araujo.
Xavi tends to transfer the heart of the Uruguayan defense to the right-back position in the face of Real in order to limit Vinicius’ movements, which greatly affected the offensive performance of the Ancelotti team in light of the Brazilian’s curtailment and reduction of his influence.
And Real proved on more than one occasion, led by Ancelotti, that he rises to the level of the event, and the victory over the Catalan rivals in his stronghold is one of the fateful moments for this coach, because he will return his team to the title struggle by reducing the difference to 6 points.
In order to beat the Catalan rivals, Real must succeed in what only one team has achieved among the visitors to the “Spotify Camp Nou” in the league this season, which is to score against the host.
Espanyol striker Joselo was the only player to score at the Catalan club’s stadium in the league this season, in a 1-1 draw between the two neighbors in December, but his goal came from a penalty kick.