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First Spanish classic of the post Messi era

First Spanish classic of the post Messi era

A Barcelona run down after the departure of Lionel Messi faces another strong challenge when it receives its longtime rival, Real Madrid, on Sunday in a day of great clashes, in which the current leader will meet the last champion.

The first classic between Barcelona and Real Madrid since Messi’s departure will be partly overshadowed by the duel between Real Sociedad, leader of the championship, and Atlético de Madrid, the last champion. The Basques from Real Sociedad play very offensive football, while Atlético has perhaps the strongest attack in the league.

The game at Barcelona’s Camp Nou will be the third in a stint that manager Ronald Koeman described as crucial to getting the team back on track, which had a disastrous start to the season and left him reeling on the tightrope.

Barcelona beat Valencia 3-1 last weekend in the league and on Wednesday dispatched Dynamo Kiev 1-0 in the Champions League, scoring their first win in that tournament after two separate defeats.

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Koeman, however, regretted that his players did not easily outperform a very timid Dynamo. Defender Gerard Piqué scored the goal, which was Barcelona’s first in three Champions League games. Despite the arrival of Memphis Dupay, the team misses Messi and also Antoine Griezmann, on loan to Atlético de Madrid to clean up the battered finances of the club a bit. Messi and Griezmann scored 58 goals between the two last season, in which the Blaucrana team scored 122 goals in total.

Depay has four goals, but no other player has scored more than two goals. In Real Madrid, meanwhile, Karim Benzema has 11 goals and Vinicius Junior seven.

Koeman said the forwards weren’t performing. The only attacker who did not criticize was Ansu Fati, arguing that he cannot be asked for too much yet as he is just returning from a ten-month absence due to injury. Fati has just renewed his contract until 2027, with a release clause of one billion euros ($ 1.1 million).

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“We must remember that he was injured for a long time. And he has not turned 19 years old ”, he declared. “He cannot be asked to solve all our problems and fill the void left by Messi. You have to go step by step and not ask him to perform miracles ”.

Barcelona expects Sunday’s clash to attract more spectators than the match against Dynamo, which was attended by just 45,000 people at the 90,000-capacity Camp Nou.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, has just beaten Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 in the Champions League, after losing surprisingly to the modest Moldovan club Sheriff in the European tournament and against Espanyol in the Spanish league.

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Vinicius scored two against the Ukrainians and established himself as Benzema’s attacking partner.

Barcelona is seventh, but only two points behind the merengue team, which is second.


Atlético de Madrid will miss Marcos Llorente, injured, but his coach Diego Simeone will have Griezmann, Luis Suárez, João Félix, Yannick Carrasco, Ángel Correa and Thomas Lemar available to arm his attack.

Atlético is three points behind Real Sociedad, with one game less.

Madrid lost 3-2 to Liverpool this week, but had just beaten Barcelona and Milan.

Real Sociedad, meanwhile, are ten games unbeaten in all competitions, not counting Thursday’s game against Austrian Sturm Graz in the Europa League.

But he will not be able to line up Mikel Oyarzábal, who is injured. (AP)

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