El Clasico 2018: Barcelona hosts rival Real Madrid in another edition of El Clasico, which will kick off from Camp Nou at 11:15 a.m. ET. For the first time in over a decade, the highly-competitive matchup will be absent both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Ronaldo, of course, was sold to Juventus this past summer. Meanwhile, Messi was recently sidelined after fracturing his arm against Sevilla.
El Clasico 2018 Live: Real Madrid will attempt to end a four-match winless run in La Liga when they face off against Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Sunday, hoping to close the four-point gap between them and the league leaders.
Barca sit at the summit of the Spanish top flight and have lost only once this term. Los Blancos, meanwhile, have lost three times in their past four outings and could fall further than seventh unless they can get a results in Catalonia.
Lionel Messi will be absent from the clash after fracturing his arm in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Sevilla, and this will be the first Clasico to feature neither him nor Cristiano Ronaldo since 2007.
Real manager Julen Lopetegui is under great pressure to clinch a first league win since September 22, per the Guardian’s Sid Lowe, and anything but a victory for the visitors could signal the end of his stint at the club.
Real managed to snatch a 2-2 draw from the Blaugrana in their most recent trip to the Camp Nou in May, but they don’t look likely to repeat that feat on Sunday. It’s only natural talk in the buildup to this encounter has gravitated towards the fact that it will be without Messi and Ronaldo for the first time in almost 11 years.
Ernesto Valverde’s men have lost only once in their past 12 outings and extended their undefeated streak to five matches after beating Inter Milan 2-0 in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
Karim Benzema scored his first goal in almost two months when he bagged the opener in Real’s 2-1 win over Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday, helping bring an end to their five-match winless streak.
Leading the other side of El Clasico’s front line is Luis Suarez, whose penalty against Sevilla was his first league goal in five matches. The Uruguay international has scored six times in 11 appearances against Real, per Transfermarkt, and shared his memories of El Clasico before Sunday’s showdown.
Barca can cement their spot as early favourites to win La Liga with victory in this season’s first Clasico, while Real chief Lopetegui faces what could be the definitive fixture of his brief tenure.
Barcelona enters the contest atop the league table with 18 total points. The Spanish giants are coming off a 2-0 victory in Champions League group stage play over Italian side Inter Milan. Rafinha and Jordi Alba provided the goal-scoring power for Barcelona.
Real Madrid has had a much tougher start to the campaign. In addition to losing Ronaldo, manager Zinedine Zidane left the club, and his replacement, Julen Lopetegui, has had difficulty getting Real Madrid to produce wins. Currenlty, Real Madrid is seventh in the table, and will enter Sunday’s fixture coming off its first winning result in a month’s time.
How to watch Sunday’s match:
Time: 11:15 a.m. ET
TV channel: beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Español
Live stream: Sling TV, beIN Sports Connect. You can watch the match live via FuboTV. Sign up now for a free seven-day trial.
Real Madrid visit Barcelona to play the first El Clasico of the 2018-19 season, one which could very well be a turning point down the road, given that coach Julen Lopetegui is reportedly going to be sacked if Los Blancos can’t get the three points.
Neither Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo will play in this match and that’s a big change from previous years. Both teams have been struggling this season but Barça are still four points ahead of Los Blancos at the moment, so Madrid can’t let them walk away of the Camp Nou with a win knowing that their advantage would increase to seven points.
It will be important for Madrid to have a leader upfront. Both Bale and Benzema need to improve but the Welshman in particular needs to show that he is ready to lead this team after the departure of Ronaldo. Considering how badly these two teams have performed defensively, both Madrid and Barça will have chances to win the game.