ARGUABLY THE biggest club game in the world takes place this weekend. Barcelona v Real Madrid has massive global spectator appeal, but this weekend, the meeting of the giants of the world game will also be a benchmarking exercise for Real Madrid’s coach, Zinedine Zidane.
As far as La Liga goes, this game is the least relevant of all recent meetings between the two rivals. With eight games to go, Barca are 10 points ahead of Real and Zidane’s men are languishing in third place, with Atletico Madrid in between them.
Real may have one eye on next season, but they’ve also got the Champions League Quarter-Finals coming up, the first leg away at Wolfsburg. The Germans may be one of the least fancied of the last eight, but a defeat in the Nou Camp and a slip-up in VW country and Zidane’s position may start to look a little shaky. So, the coming week is possibly the most crucial in the French World Cup winner’s short managerial career.
So what of El Clasico? Can Real gain some revenge on that four-goal humbling in the Bernabeu stadium in November? Here’s the last 10 meetings between the two clubs.
|2015-16||La Liga||Real Madrid||0||Barcelona||4|
|2014-15||La Liga||Barcelona||2||Real Madrid||1|
|2014-15||La Liga||Real Madrid||3||Barcelona||1|
|2013-14||Copa del Rey||Barcelona||1||Real Madrid||2|
|2013-14||La Liga||Real Madrid||3||Barcelona||4|
|2013-14||La Liga||Barcelona||2||Real Madrid||1|
|2012-13||La Liga||Real Madrid||2||Barcelona||1|
|2012-13||Copa del Rey||Barcelona||1||Real Madrid||3|
|2012-13||Copa del Rey||Real Madrid||1||Barcelona||1|
|2012-13||La Liga||Barcelona||1||Real Madrid||1|
Zidane’s record with Real has been good, with one defeat in 14 games. By the time he took over, Real’s La Liga campaign had already gone astray. His only league defeat has been at the hands of Atletico Madrid at home on February 27. Barca, however, have looked invincible for most of the season and it’s a mystery how Celta Vigo and Sevilla beat them in La Liga.
Not everyone is convinced that Zidane is managerial material. Of course, when you’re in charge of Real Madrid, you’re never really in charge of Real Madrid – especially when there is so much pressure from upstairs. Rafa Benitez lasted just 25 games and Carlo Ancelotti was let go after winning the Champions League, so it is just about the most demanding football job on the planet.
There were rumours that after Real dropped out of the La Liga title race that Real’s suits were reconsidering Zidane’s long-term position – with Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham a possible target – but the Champions League will probably decide Zidane’s fate. It is quite likely that if Real want to win the competition this year that will have to beat Barcelona at some stage. That’s one reason why this Clasico meeting cannot be dismissed because of Real’s league position.
If the whispers are true, this may be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last Clasico in La Liga, so he may want to leave a lasting impression. There are strange messages coming out of Madrid, ahead of the game. Sergio Ramos claims Real are the best team in the world, but then says Luis Enrique’s men have been best in all competitions. He’s right on that score.
So watch out for activity over the next week in Madrid. Real Madrid’s track record with coaches is not good and a bad few days for Zidane could signal a premature end for his career at the Bernabeu.