The beginning of this season was nothing short of a disaster from Real Madrid’s perspective. Sevilla and later Barcelona went on to a flying start but Los Blancos from solving one domestic issue to another appeared incapable of getting their baloney together.

Sixteen matches later, they sit on the same points with Barcelona with the Catalan side only topping the league thanks to their +23 goal-difference as opposed to Madrid’s +21.

Since losing Cristiano Ronaldo thanks to some questionable boardroom decisions and a strange confidence that the team would do just fine without him, realizing that replacing the Portuguese isn’t only difficult but might be impossible, remains a hard pill for Los Merengues to swallow.

Barca still has Lionel Messi to hold sway whenever he feels like it but since Gareth Bale failed to successful step into the Alpha position of the Galaticos squad and given the failure of Eden Hazard, pointing out the one player that can drag Madrid across the line remains a futile attempt.

Isco is probably the only one that can cause a bit of confusion for the Barcelona set-up but the presence of Antoine Griezmann alone more than cancels out the Spain international’s influence.

Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior are the other candidates who are anxiously waiting to light up the El Clasico in their own image but time and chance must come before the youngsters can be offered any part. Together with AnsuFati, they look set on defining the Clasico of the coming decade just not this one.

As for the coaches, the balance is a little different. Losing to Madrid at home will make the Barca board take the chants of “Valverde Out” more seriously. The former youth coach has managed to keep his job despite the feeling that majority of people who wish Barcelona well want him gone. Nothing makes that case stronger than a home loss to their bitterest rival.

Zinedine Zidane also had doubts all up throughout his first stint at the edges of the Bernabeu thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence. Just like every manager who’s had to manage a Barca side housing Messi, the French man’s coaching abilities were questioned from the beginning till he left.

Haven come back and still found way to sit with Barcelona at the top of the table, on same points, a win at Camp Nou will ensure a lot of those doubts get extinguished tonight.