Football

Barcelona hosts Real for a Messi-less Clasico

Man for the future: Barcelona will hope that Ansu Fati, who extended his contract, continues to excel, specially against arch-rival Real Madrid.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Barcelona faces another test of its post-Messi era when Real Madrid visits Camp Nou on an action-packed Sunday that also features a clash between the Spanish league leader and its defending champion.

The first clasico since Lionel Messi left for Paris will inevitably overshadow an equally enticing visit by Real Sociedad to Atletico Madrid. The Basque Country side with its sleek attacking style leads the league, while the titleholder boasts the deepest attack in the competition.

The visit by Madrid will close a three-game home stretch for Barcelona that coach Ronald Koeman called crucial to getting his team back on the winning path after a poor start to the season left him under intense pressure.

Newcomer Memphis Depay leads Barcelona this season with four goals, but no other player has scored more than twice. Compare that to Madrid, which has got 11 goals from Karim Benzema and seven more from Vinicius Junior.

Koeman made one exception to the criticism of his forwards; he said the team could not demand too much from 18-year-old Ansu Fati. The teenager, who recently returned from a 10-month injury layoff, signed a contract extension until 2027 after the Dynamo match that included a buyout clause of €1 billion.

Atletico midfielder Marcos Llorente will miss the Sociedad match because of injury. Even so, Diego Simeone should have his pick of Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Joao Felix, Yannick Carrasco, Angel Correa, and Thomas Lemar to play up front.

Atletico trails Sociedad by three points and with an extra game in hand.

Since losing its season opener, Sociedad has gone undefeated in 10 matches across all competitions. Sociedad will be led up front by Aleksander Isak with Spain striker Mikel Oyarzabal injured.


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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 4:02:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/barcelona-hosts-real-for-a-messi-less-clasico/article37115873.ece

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