Madrid go into the game top of La Liga, five points clear of second-placed Sevilla albeit with a game more played than them. Barcelona aren’t anywhere near the title race – they’re currently sixth in La Liga, a shocking 17 points behind Madrid.
Madrid have won two games on the bounce – they beat Valencia 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu at the weekend after winning 3-1 away at Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey during the week. Barcelona drew 1-1 at Granada on Saturday and beat Linares Deportivo 2-1 in the Copa on Wednesday evening.
This will be Xavi’s first Clasico as a coach after taking over at Camp Nou from Ronald Koeman back toward the end of October, but he has plenty of experience of the fixture due to his many seasons as a player at Barcelona.
“I’ve experienced every type of Clasico,” Xavi said pre-match in comments carried by Marca. “Being favourites and not winning as well as vice versa. I see a Barcelona that’s under construction and a Madrid that’s in very good shape, but that doesn’t mean anything. It’s not going to be easy to impose ourselves on the game because they’re the most in-form team in Spain.
“But I’m seeing good things with the team. We have to be self-critical, yes, but I’m seeing good things. We have to continue building this project. Tomorrow is a good test to see where we are. Guys like Pedri, Ferran [Torres] and [Ronald] Araujo are important to the team and I’m happy to get them back.”