Coming off the incredible and classic display in their most recent meeting, Barcelona and Real Madrid continue their La Liga campaigns on Wednesday evening, though against highly dissimilar foes.
The Spanish giants and trendsetters are separated by a single point on La Liga table, but third-place Barcelona is 10 better in goal differential than Real Madrid and could stand to overtake them for second place with only nine matches remaining.
The Catalans are obviously grateful for Lionel Messi’s triple-goal scoring effort in the 4-3 Clasico victory earlier this week, and could use that momentum to quickly submit Celta Vigo at Nou Camp in the first match of the day.
Barcelona has outscored opponents 26-8 in their last seven matches, but four of those eight goals accounted for two costly defeats at the hands of Real Sociedad and lowly Real Valladolid. The Catalans completely controlled possession against both squads but didn’t manage to create many opportunities, totaling nine shots on goal.
Needless to say Gerardo Martino’s squad played down to two squads that shouldn’t have stood in their way. That leads to some danger to falling to a 12th place Celta club capable of pulling off an equal shock victory.
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Luis Enrique’s team nearly toppled Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao early in the season, falling by one goal to each. And forward’s Charles and Nolito are dangerous playmakers, totaling 14 goals and four assists between them.
In terms of the lineup, Cristian Tello is expected to fill in for Xavi, and Carles Puyol, Isaac Cuenca and Jonathan dos Santos remain on the sidelines with their various injuries.
Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo will instead take to the road and face a fifth-place Sevilla team gunning for Champions League qualification.
Los Blancos were kicked from their perch following the loss to Barcelona, and will need to quickly bounce back and then create some separation from Bilbao if they hope to re-claim La Liga. Though boss Carlo Ancelotti has very few answers as to why his players have struggled versus Spain’s best competition this season.
"I am not happy with this," Ancelotti said. "It is difficult to explain as Real are one of the strongest teams in the world and we will continue to show this until the end of the season.
"In the first game against Atlético we deserved to lose and then in the first half against Barcelona we didn't compete well but since then the last two games, away to Atlético and then in Sunday's match, they were even."
Madrid and Ancelotti’s mind could be drawn to Atletico’s progress at home against Granada, since the two clubs are separated on the table not by goal differential but head-to-head results. Atletico owns the top spot due to a win and draw with Madrid and there won’t be another meeting until next season.
Sevilla’s starting lineup is expected to include top scorers Carlos Bacca and Ivan Rakitic, as well as goalkeeper Beto who’s responsible for six clean sheets and 75 saves this season.
TV Channel: beIN Sports
Time: Coverage for Barcelona begins at 2:55 p.m. EST and for Real Madrid starts at 4:55 p.m. EST
Online Stream: A live online stream can be viewed at beINSport Play here.