El Clasico is a 'race of the lame', says ex-Real Madrid chief Valdano

The former general manager of the Spanish capital side has been unimpressed by both teams this season but still expects a big turnout at the Bernabeu

Sunday's upcoming El Clasico clash between La Liga leaders Barcelona and bitter rivals Real Madrid is a “race of the lame”, according to Jorge Valdano, with both sides suffering from inconsistent form over the course of the 2019-20 season.

Zinedine Zidane's side appeared to have turned around an early-season slump when they leapfrogged Barca to the top of the Primera Division standings amid plenty of unrest at the Catalan side, with Ernesto Valverde sacked and Quique Setien brought in to stop the rot at Camp Nou.

But the Blaugrana have since returned to the top of the table following poor results recorded by the Spanish capital outfit, while both sides failed to impress in Europe this week as Barca struggled to a 1-1 draw in Napoli and Madrid were beaten at home by Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

As such, Valdano, a former Real player and head coach, feels that both teams lack the quality they have shown in years past – although he does expect a big turnout for the Sunday's match-up despite fan impatience.

“This Clasico is a race of the lame,” the 64-year-old told Ondacero. “Barca and Madrid are going through hard times. Barcelona's recovery [in La Liga] is only down to Real Madrid. It's their bad form that has strengthened Barca's position.

“There are many people that said after the match [against City] that they won't come on Sunday to avoid the suffering of a defeat but it is a Clasico match, all wounds will be cured. There are many experienced players at Real Madrid and they're playing at home.”

Valdano added: “Barcelona had an appalling match against Napoli. It's not the same playing against Napoli as it is playing against City. 

“We have to analyse the matches in full and I think that there are more positive things to take from Real Madrid's match than from Barcelona's. Then again, Barca also go into [El Clasico] after Messi scored four goals in one La Liga match (5-0 vs Eibar).”

On the 2-1 loss to Guardiola's reigning Premier League champions, the former Blancos general manager said: “I was waiting for City [to do something], Madrid had possession and they were in charge. But when City didn't have the ball they never messed up. 

“Then, after City's first goal, Real Madrid lost control and that's something that's been happening frequently. Real Madrid need to score first in the second leg but they don't have a good relationship with goals at the moment.”