The 190th El Clásico, pitting traditional arch-rivals Real Madrid against FC Barcelona, will go on as scheduled Sunday, despite the number of coronavirus cases in Spain rising to 49 on Saturday, according to a Reuters report.
La Liga president Javier Tebas, however, said that the Spanish league has put a "protocol" in place to respond to the coronavirus outbreak if it appears that it will affect either top flight or second division matches. In Italy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak with more than 1,100 cases as of Saturday, the Derby D'Italia between Juventus and Inter Milan was scratched for Sunday, with a prospective new date of May 13.
"We haven't considered the possibility of postponing the Clásico or any other games," Tebas told reporters on Saturday, as quoted by AS.com. "But as of Sunday evening we have opened a coronavirus commission within LaLiga to monitor the situation."
Tebas said that the league has been exploring the possibility of holding matches inside empty stadiums, to prevent large congregations of fans in one place that could potentially allow the spread of the often-deadly respiratory virus. The La Liga president also said that, as in Italy, the possibility of postponing games has been discussed. Specific dates have already been set aside to play any games that could be postponed.
But for now, the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona El Clásico will go forward, with Los Blancos needing to take all three points at home in order to regain their place at the top of the La Liga table — as ESPN UK previews in the video below.But Real Madrid have not won any of their last seven matches in the league against their arch-rivals from Catalonia, losing four and drawing three. At the same time, Barcelona have won four straight El Clásico matchups at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid, making the Blaugrana the only team in La Liga history ever to defeat Real Madrid on their own home pitch four consecutive times.
Despite a run of awkward form in February that saw them win just one of their last four La Liga matches, with two losses and a draw, Real Madrid come into the El Clásico as favorites to retake the lead at the top of the table. This is according to Caesars Palace odds published by Bleacher Report.
While the hosts are almost even money at 6-5 to win, Barcelona have been installed as 21-10 underdogs, with odds of a draw in the match set at 27-10.
The 190th El Clásico kicks off at 9 p.m. on Sunday in Madrid, Central European Standard Time. In the United States, where the cable network BeIn Sports will carry the game, that start time will be 3 p.m. EST, noon PST.