European football’s biggest rivals are set to go head-to-head again for, what will be, the 250th staging of el Clásico.
In La Liga, these two are neck and neck at the top of the table, both with 22 points after eight games.
Barcelona have now won seven successive league games, with Pedri the only scorer against Celta de Vigo last weekend.
In fact, Barça have conceded just once in the league so far, which is remarkable given how slack some of their defending has been.
Real Madrid meanwhile were also 1-0 winners last weekend; Éder Militão’s early header enough to see off Getafe.
Having said all of that, the respective Champions League performances of these two clubs could hardly be any different.
Los Blancos won their first three games, but needed a 95th minute Antonio Rüdiger header to salvage a draw away to Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.
This leaves Carlo Ancelotti’s team four points clear at the top of Group F, requiring just one more win to wrap up first place.
In stark contrast, Barcelona are >90% certain to be dropping down into the Europa League.... again!
Having lost back-to-back games at Allianz Arena and San Siro, Xavi’s team simply had to beat Inter at Camp Nou on Wednesday night.
They led, Ousmane Dembélé firing home on the cusp of half time, before Inter fought back, taking the lead just after the hour mark.
Robert Lewandowski made it 2-2, Inter then retook the lead in the 89th minute, Lewandowski equalised again and, despite a late onslaught, 3-3 it finished.
So now, if Inter beat pointless Viktoria Plzeň at home on 26 October, Barça will be out, with two games still to play.
This is an unparalleled financial disaster for the Blaugrana, meaning Xavi comes into this Clásico under serious pressure.
Who will pull clear at the top of the table with a victory at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu?
Real Madrid team news
Antonio Rüdiger didn’t get to celebrate his last-gasp equaliser on Tuesday very much, suffering serious bruising to his face in the process.
Regardless, he’s unlikely to start this one, with Éder Militão, David Alaba and Daniel Carvajal all returning to backline.
An area of concern is in goal; Thibaut Courtois has missed the last four games due to an Achilles injury, so Andriy Lunin could continue to deputise.
This game will be a serious test for Aurélien Tchouaméni, who’s been excellent so far, taking over from Casemiro.
Vinícius Júnior, who scored against Barça in February 2020, and Karim Benzema, who has 11 clásico goals to his name, will be the main threats, as always.
Barcelona team news
The visitors are very short of defenders, with Jules Koundé, Ronald Araújo, Andreas Christensen and Héctor Bellerín all current sidelined.
18 year old Alejandro Balde is, arguably, their best left-back, so could be chosen over Jordi Alba and Marcos Alonso.
Sergi Roberto will continue to fill-in at right-back, while Gerard Piqué, who was completely at fault for Inter’s equaliser, will face Real for the 43rd time.
Sergio Busquets is set to continue at the base of midfield, chosen over Frenkie de Jong, while Gavi and Pedri are this team’s great hopes.
Ousmane Dembélé and Raphinha, with Robert Lewandowski in the middle, is clearly Xavi’s first-choice forward line.
Memphis is out injured, while Ansu and Ferran Torres, the latter scored in the 4-0 at the Bernabéu last season, will be in reserve.