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 Long gone are the derbies between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid where each team possessed a catalogue of all-stars in their starting XI. These days, both sides are a shadow of their former selves, carrying only a small group of players considered as the TOP 3 in the world in their respective positions.

Both the Culés and Ancelotti’s Madrid are in the process of rebuilding their squads. However, we cannot forget that a ‘clásico’ between both teams is still a worldwide event.

This coming Sunday, October 24th, both teams will face off for the first time in the 21/22 league season. Ronald Koeman’s men arrive after having beaten Dynamo Kiev in a crucial UEFA Champions League game, while the Los Blancos are returning from a brilliant collective performance in Kiev against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Having set the context to the analysis, at the MBP School of Coaches, we will highlight the three pre-match key points that we believe will determine the outcome in this iconic game.




As mentioned, both teams are in a reconstruction phase, which has created the path for the emergence of new young talents.

For the Blaugrana, in addition to players such as Gavi, Nico and Mingueza, the standout player has been Ansu Fati. The young winger is back after the injury that has kept him out of the team since last season. The academy product’s return to Koeman’s XI will bring a series of qualities that have been amiss up until now.

The first of these is the return to the base GK-4-3-3 structure. With Fati’s return, the Dutch coach has reverted to the traditional Barça formation. Through this set up, the team has recovered basic tactical concepts such as their attacking width, an aspect that had been absent due to the different dynamical organization applied by the coach, as well as from the lack of pure wingers.

Furthermore, continuing the focus on the individual, the winger’s inclusion to the team will provide an extra dynamism to the Barcelona attack. Through his technical skills, Ansu is able to beat opponents and open up advantageous situations for his teammates. In addition, another of the characteristics of the La Masia attacker is his ability to score goals, a quality that has always stood out since his debut in the first team.

For Real Madrid, the most influential player, with the exception of star man Karim Benzema, is Vinicius Jr. The Brazilian has flourished this season, significantly improving his goalscoring return, and has formed a strong constellation with the French striker, becoming one of the deadliest attacking duos at the top European level.

 As well as having the skill to continually unbalance the opposition, the Carioca has begun to show signs of a better understanding of the game, knowing when, what and where he should perform certain actions depending on each specific situation.

Another noteworthy aspect of the winger is his ability and persistence in individual duels in the attacking phase, becoming a true headache for opposition fullbacks due to his relentless pursuit of 1vs1 moments.


Currently we find ourselves with an atypical paradigm to that of former times. From analyzing the profile of the players that make up the two squads, we could argue that both teams are built to dominate the ball and control the game, however, looking at the behavior of each side this season, the complete opposite is the case.

As regards for Real, even on the back of a strong attacking performance in the Champions League in terms of their ball possession, Ancelotti’s team feels very comfortable in the defence-attack transition where there is space to run into, this being where the qualities of players like Vinicius, Rodrygo and Valverde come to the fore.

However, the return to the line-up of players such as Kroos or Modric will affect the way in which the visitors will play, helping to speed up the possession phases and not become as predictable as they have been recently.

Meanwhile, Koeman’s team is in a period of transformation. Although the identity of Barcelona lies in the possession of the ball through their positional play, the current squad lack a clear and defined game idea as such, and players with a marked profile that would benefit that plan (as was the case in the past).

For this reason, it will not be surprising to see a more defensive FCB with less of the ball, prioritizing defensive solidity against the formidable Real attack, and searching for more quicker direct options to their forward players.


If there is a player who could be a pivotal figure in this Sunday’s match, it is surely Karim Benzema. Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, the forward has taken on the responsibility of the team’s chief goalscorer.

On top of his undoubted individual quality and his associative capacity, the French forward has blossomed into a natural predator in the penalty area, achieving the best goalscoring figures of his career in the last two seasons.

 At the same time, Benzema is the silent leader of the squad, guiding the younger players in their development and leading the team in the moments of adversity that often occur during matches.

Therefore, it will not come as a surprise if the potential Ballon d’Or winner plays a key role in taking home three points for Real, either through a goal himself or through an assist for a teammate.


 Although the upcoming El Clásico may feel less star-studded comparted to previous season’s clashes, it will be an exciting opportunity to see the next crop of players who will become the cornerstones of both sides in the years to come.

It will also be interesting to observe how both coaches decide to approach the game – if they return to the essence of the game marked by the club’s history, or if they stick to the current situation and the profile of the players that make up the squad.

Finally, and as soccer fans, we must enjoy the game in general, being one of the last matchups in these momentous matches for players such as Busquets, Modric, Piqué, and possibly even Benzema. These individuals have provided us wonderful individual and collective performances over the past 15 years, and will definitely want to sign off their Barcelona and Real Madrid careers with one last big performance in this historic game.

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