This weekend Zinedine Zidane will attempt to become the first Real Madrid coach since Bernd Schuster in 2007 to win his first Clásico.
Remarkably since Schuster’s 1-0 win at the Camp Nou on 23rd December 2007, none of his successors have managed to win their first clash with Barcelona.
Juande Ramos, Manuel Pellegrini, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafa Benítez all tasted defeat in their first Clásico.
This week’s Clasico has a different feel to it than the first clash earlier this season, a 4-0 Barcelona thumping that was one of the factors in the subsequent sacking of Benitez. For one, this match will have no impact on the title race, as the title is out of Real Madrid’s reach.
Two is that it comes after an international break, which has limited the build-up to the game. Both coaches woudl have been hoping that all of their key players will come back from international duty fit and healthy but that does not seem to be the case.
Barcelona’s left back Jordi Alba sprained his ankle playing for Spain on Tuesday and he is a big doubt for the clasico. His defensive partner on the other side, Adriano is also going to miss the match after injuring his hamstring during a training session .
Meanwhile Barca will be playing close attention to Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano’s health as Argentine travel to Bolivia to play on what all accounts is a horrible playing surface.
El Clasico By The Numbers
Here, courtesy of Opta, we take a look at the key statistics ahead of the resumption of one of football’s greatest rivalries:
0 – Barca have never won a league game against Real Madrid when top of the competition and holding an advantage of 10 points or more (D1 L2).
1 – Barca have lost just one of their last seven league games at home against Madrid, winning five. Their only defeat in that run was a 2-1 loss in April 2012.
3.22 – In 171 matches between the two sides, the average of goals scored per game is just higher than three, though the most common result is 2-1 to Real Madrid, which has occurred 18 times previously.
4 – The last four red cards in matches in all competitions between the two teams were all shown to Madrid players.
LUIS ENRIQUE v ZINEDINE ZIDANE
1 – Saturday’s match will be the first meeting between Luis Enrique and Zinedine Zidane in their coaching careers. The latter will be making his Clasico bow in the dugout.
2 – Zidane scored three goals against Barca in all competitions during his time as a player with Madrid, two of those coming when lining up against Luis Enrique.
5 – Luis Enrique and Zidane met five times in all competitions during their playing careers, winning one game apiece (D3).
MSN v BBC
14 – Lionel Messi has scored 14 goals in 19 matches against Real Madrid, twice as many as Cristiano Ronaldo – though the Portuguese has featured in six games fewer.
20 – Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have scored a cumulative 20 goals against Madrid, while Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo have managed just 12 – Bale is yet to register against Barca.
38 – Suarez has been involved in more goals (26 goals, 12 assists) than any other player in La Liga this season, Ronaldo is second with 28 strikes and nine assists