Real Madrid embattled before clásico but Barcelona are barely better

Zidane knows his side must improve after a poor league run and Manchester City defeat while divisions run deep at rivals

The Manchester City fans high within the north-east stand of the Bernabéu who belted out long time weren’t the sole ones who had enjoyed watching Real Madrid lose on Wednesday night. For Barcelona supporters, any defeat for his or her rivals is to be celebrated and every one the more so if it’s inflicted by Pep Guardiola, but this carried still greater significance, bringing a surge of hope. As City fans sang within the stadium, 370 miles away Sport prepared its front page. the image showed the manager pointing, by the headline: “Pep, you show us the way.”

Four days later Barcelona follow City into an equivalent arena seeking an equivalent outcome. From Guardiola to Lionel Messi, it’s the things of nightmares for Madrid. Their vulnerability suddenly exposed, there have been lessons for others to find out . Sport hoped so, certainly, and wasn’t alone. Below the town fans, sitting during a glass-fronted box was Quique Setién and therefore the Barcelona manager’s assistant, Eder Sarabia, working towards their first clásico.

At the top they headed to their hotel. a couple of kilometres north up the Castellana, the hotel stands where Madrid’s former training ground once did and towers over the town . it’s where Barcelona stay; it’s also where City stayed. Setién and Guardiola don’t only share a footballing philosophy. within the late summer, Setién hung out within the UK and visited Guardiola, attending the Etihad for the draw with Spurs in August. Late on Wednesday they shared a glass of wine and an extended conversation. Setién and Sarabia flew back subsequent afternoon, armed with additional insight on their opponents.

There is much to analyse, not least what went on to Madrid over the last month. they need won one among their last five games. They were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Real Sociedad, conceding four at the Bernabéu, while a draw against Celta and a defeat at Levante last weekend produced a five-point swing in seven days and let Barcelona go two points clear. After defeat at Levante Zinedine Zidane said: “Our season is at stake this week” – first City, then Barcelona. it had been a time for “tíos”, Sergio Ramos said: blokes, real men. Madrid had to “thump a fist on the desk”. judi bola online

“The hour of truth has come,” Ramos added, but the reality hurt. With Setién watching, City beat them, the primary a part of the season at stake slipping away. Guardiola, whistled throughout, won at the Bernabéu for the sixth time. And now comes Messi. “If football was a faith , Messi would be our God,” Martin Braithwaite, the emergency signing from Leganés, said. For Madrid the Argentinian is that the antichrist, the player who has done them more damage than anyone else ever.

At a time like this, too. The memory of this point last season already lingered; now it’s on their minds even more. A year ago Madrid lost it beat eight Bernabéu days, their season over three months early: knocked out of the cup by Barcelona and therefore the Champions League by Ajax, they lost the clásico 1-0, extinguishing any hope within the league. it had been a big exaggeration when Marca called memories of that a “psychosis” on Monday; it had been less of 1 by Thursday.

The solidity and reliability that had defined Madrid, unbeaten in 15 league games until getting to Levante, gave thanks to a vulnerability that’s even more of a drag considering how few goals they’re scoring: Karim Benzema has two in 13 games, Gareth Bale has three in 25, Luka Jovic two in 23, Vinícius three in 37. Eden Hazard, injured against Levante, will miss two months. On an equivalent day Messi scored four and Barcelona fans discovered that Braithwaite could be useful in any case .