- FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, the biggest match in the Spanish soccer season, arrives this weekend.
- Neither Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo will feature, but there are still plenty of reasons to watch.
- Here’s everything you need to know.
- Read all of Business Insider’s coverage for the 2018-2019 European soccer season right here.
El Clásico is back. That’s right, the biggest fixture in the Spanish soccer calendar is approaching, as FC Barcelona welcomes Real Madrid to Camp Nou this weekend.
Considering the rivalry and the hostilities that these two teams have enjoyed over the years, the welcome will be anything but friendly. Real desperately needs a confidence-boosting victory to climb La Liga but may struggle at Barça, as the Catalans can retain their dominance at the top of the table should they topple Los Blancos on Sunday.
This will be a rare El Clásico as both teams will be missing their historical top performers. Cristiano Ronaldo famously left Madrid to join Juventus FC in the summer, while Lionel Messi fractured his arm and is sidelined for three weeks after falling awkwardly in the club’s recent 4-2 victory over Sevilla.
However, this fixture is about more than just two key players, even if they happen to be amongst the best players the sport has ever seen.
This is a clash of two soccer giants where incredible goals are frequently scored, where tacklers clatter their opponents, and where tempers flare so frequently it is not uncommon to see red cards given. Heroes are made in this game, and sometimes so are villains.
This is El Clásico – Spain’s must-see exhibition of high-quality soccer.
When is El Clásico: FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid?
El Clásico kicks off on Sunday, when Real makes the 6.5 hour, 425-mile trip east to Barcelona for one of the biggest matches of its season.
Here’s what time the Barcelona vs. Real Madrid match starts in major cities across different time zones on Sunday, October 28:
- London (BST): 3.15 p.m.
- New York (ET): 11.15 a.m.
- Chicago (CT): 10.15 a.m.
- Denver (MT): 9.15 a.m.
- Las Vegas (PT): 8.15 a.m.
- Los Angeles (PT): 8.15 a.m.
- Honolulu (HAST): 5.15 a.m.
- Sydney (AET): 2.15 a.m. (Monday)
- Tokyo (JST): 12.15 a.m. (Monday)
- Moscow (MSK): 6.15 p.m.
- Paris (CEST): 4.15 p.m.
- Madrid (CEST): 4.15 p.m.
Why should I watch?
Both teams need victory, and nothing else will do. Barcelona is the home side and will need maximum points to satisfy its demanding fans, of which close to 100,000 will packed inside Camp Nou. Barça is also top of La Liga, leading Espanyol by one point having banked 18 from its opening nine games to date.
Messi, as is often the case, has been by far the club’s best performer so far this season with seven goals and five assists from eight starts in all competitions, but Barcelona still has enough up its sleeve to conjure up spells even without its main magic man.
Luis Suárez and Ivan Rakitic in particular have played exceptionally well in Messi’s absence. Both players scored after the Argentine was subbed off in last weekend’s 4-2 win over Sevilla, and even though neither got on the scoresheet in the 2-0 win over Inter on Wednesday, they were ranked amongst the best players on the entire pitch by data-crunching website Whoscored.com.
Suárez’ shot selection and Rakitic’s creativity will be key, if Barcelona is to test Real, but Madrid will be looking at forwards Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale to further establish themselves as main men in the club’s post-Ronaldo era
Benzema already has four goals in all competitions so far this season, while Bale is a proven big-game player. Both will need to be on top form to ensure Real’s greatest rival fails to open an even bigger gap between the top clubs in Spain’s top division.
Real is currently seventh, and four points behind Barça. Victory, therefore, reduces that deficit to just a single point but a loss could surrender a problematic league lead to Barcelona. Defeat could also spell the end of Julen Lopetegui’s reign as Real boss.
When it comes to club-level, domestic soccer, it rarely gets bigger than this.
How can I watch live?
Eleven Sports bought the TV rights to La Liga matches when it out-bid BT Sport, meaning UK audiences now need a subscription to Eleven Sports to watch La Liga matches – including El Clásico.
Current subscribers can watch on their iOS mobile and tablet app, available on Apple Store, as well as on Android devices, available from Google Play. If you have not yet subscribed, you can sign up to a month with a seven-day free trial for a reduced cost of £5.99 per month.