A Classic to whet your appetite in 2023

Real Madrid and Barça start the year with the league duel at the WiZink Center


Real Madrid and Barça meet this Monday (9:00 p.m.) on matchday 14 of the Endesa League, a Clásico at the WiZink Center to start the recently launched 2023 with the usual rivalry, the leadership at stake and in search of a good dose of confidence, with both teams still to find their best version.

The white team starts the year as the leader of the League with 11-2, commanding a tight table in which Barça follows after a win, tied with Lenovo Tenerife and Cazoo Baskonia. Chus Mateo’s men won their heads in a direct duel with the Canaries two days ago, while the Catalans lost that rhythm four days ago with the defeat against Obradoiro.

The progress of both giants is not overdone in the first third of the season, but they are still the rivals to beat. In the capital, the arrival of new players, injuries and Chus Mateo’s booklet are gradually consolidating a game supported by Dzanan Musa, Edy Tavares, Mario Hezonja and Sergio Llull.

However, the best version of the whites comes when they tune up the defense and the rhythm kicks in, something they haven’t achieved regularly. Mateo’s men reach the Clásico after losing on Thursday in the Euroleague against Baskonia, a highly demanding duel like the one that is coming up this January 2 at the Palacio in the capital.

The tough calendar now leaves three home games in one week for a Madrid team that beat Barça in the Super Cup and lost on the second day of the Euroleague at the Palau. The culé team ate the grapes and prepared their bags to travel this Sunday with all the available players except Sergi Martínez.

Sarunas Jasikevicius’ men also have homework, although they are in a good position both in domestic competition and in Europe. El Clásico will have to bring out the best level of a Barça that still has both sticks in its retina against its eternal rival last year, in the Euroleague semifinals and in the League final.

The culé team is looking at a good defensive level but misses artillery, points that do not come from Kuric, Abrines or Higgins. Barça ended 2022 with a great win in Belgrade on Friday, thanks to Nikola Mirotic forcing extra time with an impossible three-pointer in an environment similar to the one they will experience on Monday.

The Hispanic Montenegrin is beginning to feel back, he already has his physique and confidence more expensive, after a month of competition, after the Achilles tendon injury that he dragged from last year. Satoransky, protagonist in the triumph over Madrid in October, Vesely and Kalinic are already performing in their first Barca campaign.

REAL MADRID: Williams-Goss, Causeur, Musa, Cornelie and Tavares — possible starting quintet — Llull, Deck, Yabusele, Poirier, Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez, Abalde and Ndiaye.

BARÇA: Laprovittola, Satoransky, Kalinic, Mirotic and Vesely –possible quinteto initial–; Higgins, Da Silva, Paulí, Sanli, Tobey, Kuric, Jokubaitis and Nnaji.

–PAVILION: WiZink Center.

–TIME: 21:00/