History and form is very much with Barcelona when it comes to recent ties against their rivals. Since Pep Guardiola took the reigns there have been three different managers in the opposite dugout; Juande Ramos, Manuel Pellegrini and the incumbent Jose Mourinho have all failed to halt Barca’s dominance of this fixture, and their collective record stands at: played five, lost five. The most striking statistic from all five of these matches is the amount of goals scored; Barcelona have scored sixteen goals to Real’s two, half of which astonishingly, have been scored at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
However, the Real side that Barca will face on Saturday will be very different to the one that was humiliated 5-0 at the Camp Nou in November. Mourinho has built a much more resilient team and are most certainly capable of beating the Catalans on their day. Barcelona however, will go to the Bernabeu boasting an impressive record, having beaten six of the top seven and drawing with Sevilla away from home. Real on the other hand, have lost twice in that same period, allowing the Catalans to stretch their lead at the top of the table to eight points.
In yet more success for Leo Messi, the Argentinian’s goal on Tuesday earned him a place in the history books as he broke the record for goals scored by a Barcelona player in one season. His 48th goal confirmed him as one of the greatest players ever to wear the famous Blaugrana jersey, and it goes without saying that he will be instrumental in any success his team has in Madrid on Saturday.
With three cup fixtures still to play – the first of which being the final of the Copa del Rey due to take place on Wednesday evening – both sides will see this game as one that could make or break their respective seasons. For Barcelona, a win at the Santiago Bernabeu would extend their period of dominance in La Liga and all but confirm their status as champions. For Real, three points would represent a way back into the title race and give them the confidence to know that they are good enough to rival the Catalans.
With the weight of expectation as heavy as ever on the shoulders of Pep Guardiola’s side, Saturday presents them with the perfect opportunity to further enhance their growing reputation as the best Barcelona side to ever grace a football pitch.