In goal for Madrid is Andriy Lunin, the Ukrainian, who has replaced Thibaut Courtois, who hasn’t recovered from the back injury that’s kept him from playing in the last four matches.
The teams via social media.
There they are, the lads. The Super League lads.
Sponsorship news here, per Reuters.
Barcelona will sport the owl logo of Drake’s OVO Sound label on their jerseys instead of main sponsors Spotify when they take on Real Madrid on Sunday to mark the Canadian rapper surpassing 50 billion streams on the music platform. Barcelona, who were one of the last major clubs without a shirt sponsor, said the move was part of their efforts to bring football and music together. Four-times Grammy award winner Drake posted an image of the limited-edition jersey on Instagram to his more than 120 million followers. Barça lead La Liga on goal difference ahead of Real Madrid.
Well done, Drake, on trousering the £22.50 approx you get for 50 billion streams….Don’t spend it all at once, mate.
Robert Smithson, perhaps missing my rather poor joke, admits to pedantry: “If we’re being pedantic about the use of definite articles in Spanish and English, it would be “The first Clasico of the season”. If we’re extending pedantry to diacritics, it would be “The first Clásico of the season”. Apologies.”
(The joke being that people call it The El Clasico like The MLS. Jokes that have to explained are dead jokes so well done, Robert, for making me feel so small. He’s right, of course. )
Sid Lowe, who will be our man in Madrid later, spoke to Luis Figo, someone who embodies the morbo of this eternal rivalry.
I had everything in Barcelona, but you think: ‘It’s not like I’m going to a second-rate club.’ If it hadn’t been Madrid, maybe I wouldn’t have gone. It’s a challenge, a decision based on feeling valued, convincing me I was going to be an extremely important piece. It could have been a cagada, a cock-up, but it wasn’t, thank God.
The Netflix documentary is still well worth a watch.
What do these teams mean?
As predicted, Modric is back into midfield from the team that drew 0-0 with Shakhtar in midweek. Eden Hazard drops out as Vinicius gets the nod. Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao and David Alaba come in for Lucas Vazquez, Toni Rudiger and Nacho.
Jules Kounde is back in the line-up in place of Gerard Pique who struggled in that fateful 3-3 with against Inter in the Champions League. Frenkie De Jong also returns is in in place of Gavi while 18-year-old Alejandro Balde replaces Marcos Alonso.
Real Madrid XI: Lunin, Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy, Tchouameni, Kroos, Modric, Valverde, Vinicius, Benzema.
Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Garcia, Kounde, Balde; De Jong, Pedri, Busquets; Dembele, Lewandowski, Raphinha
The El Clasico of the season, and it’s a top of the table clash. As per usual, right? Well, not exactly since Barcelona, top of La Liga on goal difference, are staring down a Champions League abyss and need the domestic scene as a fig leaf for their European problems. That came, of course, after Barça attempted to raise themselves with some Kwasi-style economics, pulling more levers than The Fat Controller. Real Madrid have sat back and been far more circumspect. Having called off the dogs in the Kylian Mbappé hunt, they are in the process of a partial rebuild, with Aurelien Tchouameni in the midfield, and the likes of Luka Modric rested on occasion, though the latter great man will be lining up here.
It’s also Robert Lewandowski’s first Clasico, where he will face Ballon d’Or elect Karim Benzema, playing in his 42nd, battle of 34-year-olds, the two best strikers of their generation. This fixture will always possess such star quality, and though this game may not have hit the hype levels of You Know Who v Him Too it’s sure to throw up storylines aplenty, and hopefully lots of good football.
The kick-off is 3.15pm UK time. Join me.