Barcelona vs. Real Madrid in El Clasico: No Messi or Ronaldo for first time in over a decade, but here’s what to watch

When Sunday’s match between Barcelona and Real Madrid comes around at 11: 15 a.m. ET — stream on fuboTV (Try for free) — neither Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo will be present. The Barcelona star will miss the game due to his fractured arm suffered last weekend, while Ronaldo no longer plays for Real Madrid. He’s currently tearing it up in Italy for Juventus. It’s been 11 years since El Clasico has been played without the two megastars. So what should fans keep an eye on in this one?

1. There’s more on the line for Real than Barca

Simply put, Real Madrid stinks right now. The team is going through a really rough moment and had a goal-scoring drought thata lasted over 400 minutes. The team went winless in five consecutive games, losing four of them. It boils down to not having a finisher like Cristiano Ronaldo in attack. The team has created chances but the scoring boost has been absent. For a club used to being dominant, it lost at home to Levante and struggled to beat Viktoria Plzen just days later in the Champions League. Not good.

And there’s more on the line for Real as they look to get something going in the league. A loss could mean the end for manager Julen Lopetegui, who was fired over the summer as coach of the Spanish national team for talking about the Real Madrid job.

2. Throw each team’s form out the window

Time and time again we’ve seen one of the two teams enter this game as an underdog and it having nothing to do with the final outcome. Barca is by far the stronger, more in-form team, but this is the biggest rivalry in European club soccer, so anything can happen. There’s no doubt Barcelona is likely to win, but don’t be shocked if the unexpected happens. In history, Real Madrid has 72 wins in league over Barca, while Barca has 70, with 34 being draws. It’s always competitive between the two.

3. Most likely to steal the show

Without Messi and Ronaldo, who is likely to steal the show? On the Real Madrid side, it’s likely Isco or Marco Asensio, but because Barcelona is in a good moment, expect something huge from somebody like Philippe Coutinho or Ousmane Dembele. Real Madrid’s defense is aging and has really struggled with speed and timing. Coutinho and Dembele are two players who can be clinical at every moment, especially from outside the box, and they can make the difference on Sunday.

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