As the globe waits for the return of the Barcelona vs. Real Madrid rivalry with a star-studded next generation of global superstars on Saturday, one point separates the top three clubs in La Liga.
For a decade, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo dominated El Clasico headlines (both on and off the field), but the all-time greats are now long gone, replaced by the likes of Pedri, Gavi, Lamine Yamal, Joao Felix, and Robert Lewandowski on one side, and Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Junior, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni, and Joselu on the other.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid currently hold pole position in La Liga with 25 points from 10 matches followed by Girona, who have the exact same tally but are second on the table on goal difference.
Xavi Hernandez’s Barcelona side, who are on an unbeaten run this season, meanwhile, are third with 24 points.
With Girona set to face Celta Vigo earlier in the day, the road to the top of the La Liga table could be open for both Barca and Real before the El Clasico kicks off.
After 10 of 38 games played, it’s Real Madrid who sit atop the table, level on 25 points (8W-1D-1L) with — no, not Barcelona, but — Girona, in just their second season back in the top flight after three in the second division. Then comes Barca, with 24 points, the last remaining unbeaten side in Liga Liga (7W-3D-0L).
Injuries are currently a major issue for the Blaugrana, with midfield maestro-turned-manager Xavi missing up to six starters when El Clasico kicks off at Barcelona’s Olympic stadium (Camp Nou is currently undergoing renovations that will increase the iconic stadium’s capacity to 105,000, but are not expected to be completed until the end of 2024 at the earliest).
Injury update on Jude Bellingham
Bellingham, who has 11 goals in 11 games (all competitions) for Los Blancos this season, was taken off in the last minutes of Madrid’s 2-1 UEFA Champions League win against Braga on Tuesday. In the 61st minute, Bellingham scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. Carlo Ancelotti, the manager, has subsequently said that the 20-year-old English midfielder is anticipated to be healthy for Saturday.
Real Madrid are already missing goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and defender Eder Militao for the season due to ruptured ACLs, while 18-year-old Turkish winger Arda Guler has yet to make his debut for the club after suffering two injuries since joining from Fenerbahce.
Barcelona team news
It looks very unlikely that any of Pedri, Jules Koundé and Sergi Roberto will be fit for this game, but there have been some positive developments regarding the other players on Barça’s alarmingly long list of injuries.
Xavi has hinted that Robert Lewandowski might be ready, and Frenkie de Jong and Raphinha have both been making moves in the right direction this week. The squad won’t be announced until Saturday and we are all eyes to see if any of those get the nod.
And Joao Felix was taken off against Shakhtar Donetsk midweek, but Xavi insists that it was a minor issue and there’s nothing to worry about there.
How to watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid live, stream link, time
Kickoff: 10:15 am ET, Saturday (Oct. 28)
Online: Watch via ESPN+