Preview: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona – prediction, team news, lineups

Real Madrid will be bidding to move 11 points clear of second-placed Barcelona at the top of the La Liga table when they welcome their bitter rivals to Bernabeu for the latest instalment of El Clasico.

Both sides were in Champions League quarter-final action earlier this week, with Real Madrid overcoming Manchester City to advance to the final four of the competition, but Barcelona were knocked out by Paris Saint-Germain after a difficult second leg on home soil.

Match preview

Real Madrid are on for a La Liga and Champions League double this season, and a victory over Barcelona on Sunday night would go a long way to securing the title in Spain’s top flight.

Indeed, a home success in El Clasico would see Carlo Ancelotti’s side lead by 11 points with six games left, and it would be very difficult to imagine a turnaround occurring from that position, but a loss for Los Blancos would cut the gap to five points, and it would very much be on in terms of the title race.

Real Madrid have been comfortably the best team in Spain’s top flight this season, boasting a record of 24 wins, six draws and one defeat from 31 matches to collect 78 points, which has left them eight points clear of second-placed Barcelona, while they are the highest goalscorers (67) and have the best defensive record (20).

Ancelotti’s team beat Mallorca 1-0 in the league last weekend to make it four straight successes in Spain’s top flight, before navigating their way past Man City in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Real Madrid had to concede a lot of possession and opportunities, but they drew 1-1 at the Etihad Stadium to make it 4-4 on aggregate, with penalties therefore required to decide the contest, and the Spanish giants triumphed in the shootout to set up a semi-final with Bayern Munich.

Los Blancos will be bidding to make it a league double over Barcelona this season, having recorded a 2-1 victory when the two teams locked horns for the reverse fixture back in October.

Preview: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups

Barcelona had a different experience in Europe earlier this week, suffering a 4-1 home defeat to PSG in the second leg of their quarter-final to exit the competition with a 6-4 loss overall.

Xavi’s side led 3-2 after the first leg in Paris and were 4-2 ahead on aggregate when Raphinha netted in the 12th minute of Tuesday’s clash, but Ronald Araujo’s red card in the 29th minute changed the match, and the French champions went on to score four times without reply to secure their spot in the semi-finals.

Barcelona’s sole focus will now be on the league, and this is a must-win contest for the Catalan outfit if they are to have any chance of retaining the La Liga title this season.

The reigning champions are unbeaten in the league since the end of January, winning eight times since then, including each of their last four against Mallorca, Atletico Madrid, Las Palmas and Cadiz.

Despite the recent speculation, Xavi is still planning to stand down as head coach this summer, so there will be huge change ahead of next season, and it is also set to be a fascinating transfer window for the club.

Barcelona have the second-best away record in La Liga this season, picking up 33 points from 15 matches, remaining unbeaten in the process, but they will be heading to a Real Madrid side that have also not lost at Bernabeu in Spain’s top flight this season.

Real Madrid La Liga form:

Real Madrid form (all competitions):

Barcelona La Liga form:

Barcelona form (all competitions):

Team News

Preview: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups

Real Madrid remain without the services of Thibaut Courtois and David Alaba due to knee injuries, but the team are expected to receive a double fitness boost for this contest.

Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior were both forced off against Man City on Wednesday due to injury problems, but the pair are both likely to be available to feature from the first whistle on Sunday night.

Aurelien Tchouameni is back from a European suspension and could feature in the middle of the defence alongside Antonio Rudiger, while Jude Bellingham, who netted twice in the reverse league game earlier this season, is set to operate behind the front two of Vinicius and Rodrygo.

Luka Modric is an option to freshen the midfield, but Eduardo Camavinga should keep hold of his spot in the middle alongside Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde.

As for Barcelona, Sergi Roberto and Andreas Christensen will both be back in the squad after missing the PSG contest due to suspensions.

Gavi and Alejandro Balde are still out with long-term knee injuries, but the Catalan outfit are otherwise in strong shape, with Araujo also available, as his ban only relates to European matches.

Christensen is expected to come into the midfield on Sunday, which could see Pedri feature further forward alongside Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski.

Lamine Yamal was substituted early on against PSG in response to Araujo’s red card, and the Spain international could now be on the bench for the first whistle in El Clasico.

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Lunin; Carvajal, Rudiger, Tchouameni, Mendy; Valverde, Camavinga, Kroos; Bellingham; Vinicius, Rodrygo

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Cubarsi, Cancelo; Gundogan, Christensen, F de Jong; Pedri, Lewandowski, Raphinha

We say: Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona

There has not actually been a league draw between these two sides since December 2019, but we are backing a stalemate this weekend. Both sides were involved in emotional European affairs during the week, and with Real Madrid not needing to win, we believe that the points could be shared at Bernabeu.

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