It’s never too early to start talking about El Clásico between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, the most important soccer game in the world.
The contest is supposed to take place on October 26 at Camp Nou and sportsbooks will offer betting odds for it but recent developments have put the game’s status up in the air.
Where Will the Game Be Played & When?
La Liga asked for El Clásico to be moved from Camp Nou to the Santiago Bernabeu over fears of civil unrest. Barcelona has had protests for days because nine Catalan separatist leaders were jailed last Monday and La Liga asked the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and both teams for their opinion.
FC Barcelona issued a statement as soon as the sentences were handed down after the ruling:
“FC Barcelona, as one of the leading entities in Catalonia, and in accordance with its historical record, for the defense of freedom of expression and the right to decide, today, after the condemnatory ruling issued by the Supreme Court in relation to the open process against the Catalan civic and political leaders, states that:
In the same way that the preventive prison sentence didn’t help to resolve the conflict, neither will the prison sentence given today, because prison is not the solution.
The resolution of the conflict in Catalonia must come exclusively from political dialogue.
Therefore, now more than ever, the club asks all political leaders to lead a process of dialogue and negotiation to resolve this conflict, which should also allow for the release of convicted civic and political leaders.
FC Barcelona also expresses all its support and solidarity to the families of those who are deprived of their freedom.”
According to BBC Sport, Barça refused the request from La Liga because they feel that the change of venue is unnecessary. It is believed that more protests will take place on the date of El Clásico and per La Liga, their request is made because of “exceptional circumstances beyond our control.”
As for Real Madrid, they reportedly prefer the game to be postponed rather than changing venues because the refurbishment work being done on the Santiago Bernabeu could be affected.
Both teams are right to be against the idea of changing venues, it will alter their schedule in the competition and bring logistical issues. That said, the fears of La Liga are legitimate. Can Catalonia president Joaquim Torra guarantee that El Clásico will be played safely? The decision to play this game does have political elements to consider but it should be played at Camp Nou, as long as the requisite guarantees can be met.
Suspending the game or having to witness incidents before, during or after it would be a real shame and soccer would be a new victim of what’s taking place at Catalonia.
Catalan media recently reported that Barça responded to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) regarding the request to move El Clásico against Real Madrid by leaving the door open for a new date, basing their argument on competitive concerns.
FC Barcelona’s main concern with playing the game at Santiago Bernabeu is that its players would have little time to recover from their trip to the Czech Republic to play Slavia Prague for the UEFA Champions League on October 23 before heading straight to Madrid to play on October 26.
This will be the first El Clásico since Zinedine Zidane’s return to managing Real Madrid in March. The two Spanish giants met four times last season, with FC Barcelona winning three of the games (the other one was a draw).
Barça’s 5-1 beatdown of Real Madrid on October 28, 2018 at Camp Nou for La Liga led to Julen Lopetegui’s dismissal as manager and eventually helped pave the way for Zidane’s return.