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The Spanish superclassic: train wreck

The Spanish derby between Real Madrid and Barcelona continues to be the most important classic in the world, although in both tables the bombastic figures of a decade ago are missed. It also doesn’t help that neither of them is at the forefront of football proposals in a world dazzled by tactical innovations, such as those proposed by Guardiola’s Manchester City, or that they possess the dizzying dynamism of Sarri’s Napoli. However, this does not prevent them from leading the Spanish table side by side still undefeated in Iberian lands, although it does make it difficult for them to convince in Europe, where both have just stumbled.

Who arrives with more volatility is Barcelona. Although his defense is hampered by the absence of Araújo, Christensen, Koundé and Bellerin, he has conceded just one goal in 8 league games. In the Champions League he exposes an uglier face: he is third in his group with four points in the same number of matches, in which he has collected the ball from his own net 7 times. Going to the round of 16 requires a dose of feat, another of other people’s mistakes and not a little optimism. It doesn’t look like it will be enough this time for anything other than the UEFA League.

The Catalan problem is double, of game and mentality, although the coach only recognizes the second. The azulgrana no longer defend with the ball and their first line is porous in the face of demand. Xavi does not have a Xavi to captain the midfielder (Gavi and Pedri are yet to mature, De Jong has lost favor with the coach) and the years are already beginning to be felt in the soap opera Piqué and the busy Busquets. Lewandowski compensates with a superb conversion rate, but his allies up front are pungent but intermittent: Raphinha and Demébéle.

With Ancelotti’s side the problems are not as pronounced, but there are signs that the stellar performance in both areas that made them triumph last season will hardly be repeated now. Courtois suffers from sciatica and Benzema, recovered from an injury that prevented him from playing part of September, has lost his aim. Vini Jr, Rodrygo and Valverde have been correcting the Frenchman’s downturn, but the Real Madrid is not a dominant team nor does it have a style that goes beyond forcefulness. Two separate draws against Osasuna and Shakhtar Donetsk can be signs that later become symptoms, although the old wisdom of the Italian DT sometimes serves to disguise the performance of his team.

That said, it hardly matters when two such legendary and opposing shirts cross fires, because the first effect of a classic is to equalize the contenders. Then the questions. What guarantee can the Ukrainian Lunin, who has lived in the shadow of Courtois, give the Madrid goalkeeper? How much damage will the South American Madrid trio do to the Catalan full-backs on duty? Can Tchouameni be confirmed as a substitute for Casemiro in the big square? Will Barza be able to clear up doubts by transmitting them to Real Madrid or will the whites be the ones to liquidate the rival project? The answers, in a few hours, today Sunday, at 9 am.


Source: Elcomercio

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