One of the world’s most storied sports rivalries, Barcelona v. Real Madrid, kicks off again this weekend, and the series — known colloquially as El Clásico — couldn’t be much fiercer or closer. Over the course of 243 matches, Barcelona leads 96-95 with 52 draws.
The two teams last faced each other on December 18, 2019, when the they played to a 0-0 draw to remain tied at the top of the table in La Liga.
Once again, stakes are high as the winner will walk off not just with bragging rights but will also find themselves alone at the top of the table in La Liga — provided they don’t play to a draw. Barça currently leads La Liga with 55 points, while Real Madrid is in second with 53. The season is essentially over for the rest of the league, as Atlético and Sevilla are tied for a distant third with just 43 points each.
On Tuesday, Barça played Napoli to a 1-1 tie in the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League, with Antoine Giezmann scoring the equalizer in the 57th minute. Their previous La Liga match was a 5-0 romp over Eibar, in which Lionel Messi scored four goals. Messi now leads La Liga with 18 goals in just 20 appearances and is sitting atop the standings for the Pichichi Trophy, surpassing Telmo Zarra with 7 total. Messi is the all-time leading scorer in La Liga as well as El Clásico, with 437 goals, 26 of which came in the rivalry.
Real Madrid played Manchester City in their UEFA round of 16 match, losing 2-1 after having gone up 1-0 in the 60th minute. Adding insult to injury, Sergio Ramos was sent off in the 86th minute with the 26th red card of his career. Not only are Barça and Real 1-2 in the standings, but in goals as well, as Karin Benzema is second in La Liga with 13 goals.
We were denied an earlier matchup between the two clubs during the Supercopa de España in January, when Barcelona lost to Atlético 3-2 in the opening round. Real Madrid would play Atlético to a 0-0 draw in the final, before winning on penalty kicks, 4-1.
Watch El Clásico Sunday, March 1, at 3:00pm ET on beIN SPORTS Ñ. Don’t have beIN SPORTS Ñ? Click here to subscribe to Best of Spanish for $10/mo. Already subscribed? Add Best of Spanish to your existing package for just $5.