After robbing 26 goals in El Clasico matches, it seems almost unthinkable that Leo Messi has failed to find a net against Real Madrid since May 2018.
Seven games have passed since then against the eternal rival, and more recently he has been nowhere near extending his record.
While there is always an extra incentive to score against Los Blancos, Saturday’s schedule is probably more important than any of the last few seasons.
From a personal standpoint, if Messi got one, it would bring him 30 goals in all competitions of the 13th consecutive campaign.
It’s a stunning record in whatever way you want to tweak it.
Moreover, it could be crucial in helping the Catalans keep the hosts at their fingertips in the league while at the same time exerting maximum pressure on Athletic.
It will be a difficult question although both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane are not expected to play any role in the match.
Barca have lost two of the last three Classics and scored just one goal – the last time-out of Ansu Fati.
We are certainly in the best shape to enter the game, which there is no doubt about, although there is a question mark about Ronald Koeman’s tactical ability.
Earlier this season he was completely surpassed by Zinedine Zidane and the Frenchman is hardly the best tactical mind in European football.
Still, it makes sense to get the best out of your team when it matters.
From the defense it would seem that Gerard Pique is in a race against time to be ready for the match, but Ronald Araujo is quite an acceptable reserve player.
Despite the pace of Vinicius Junior and the physicality of Karim Benzema, he could be an even better option on this occasion.
Given the importance of the results, there can be no justification for the poor performance of any player. Every drop of blood, sweat and tears should be left out on the field of Valdebebas.
There will be no complaints from teachers if this minimum requirement is met.
If there are passengers on Saturday, Koeman must act quickly and decisively. Not bringing in Riqui Puig with the remaining five minutes and expecting him to do wonders.
It is true that the season does not depend on this result, but the victory will do wonders for the morale of the team and the fans, and, honestly, it is high time for Barca to switch to an eternal rival.