Gear up and get ready because the EL Clasico is coming your way! The titanic clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid is upon us, with the match set to kick-off on Saturday and boy we can’t wait!
Real Madrid goes into the game as the table toppers, six points ahead of the Catalans in the La Liga. The Galacticos are coming on the back of a 2-1 victory over strugglers Sporting Gijon last week, whereas Barca dropped a crucial 2 points at the Anoeta against a defiant Real Sociedad.
Gareth Bale will be the most notable absentee for the current European champions, while Toni Kroos will also be unavailable due to injury. However, Casemiro is fit and available again and should play some part for Zinedine Zidane’s side. Barcelona will be without the services of Jeremy Mathieu and Jordi Alba remains a doubt, but the good news for them is that Andres Iniesta will be available after having not played since October.
It is going to be a huge night for both the teams, as Madrid will look to extend their lead at the top, while Barca will want to get the three points and edge closer to their most bitter rivals. Ahead of football’s blockbuster event, we take a look at a playing XI featuring players from both sides based on their contributions thus far:
Keylor Navas (GK)
There is no question about this one as the Costa Rican has been one of the best goalkeepers in the La Liga so far. Having been on the brink of an exit in 2015, Navas has established himself as one of Zidane’s most trusted men while, on the other hand, Barca shot-stopper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen hasn’t had the easiest of times stepping up to become Barcelona’s No.1 in all competitions.
The Brazilian has been one of the most enterprising players for Madrid this season, and his attacking verve has been one of the most pleasing aspects of the Spanish capital side’s play this term. He edges out Jordi Alba, who has had a stop-start season, hampered by injuries.
Raphael Varane (CB)
The French centre-back has been in tremendous form for the Los Blancos and has impressed everyone with his strong and solid performances at the back. While a case could be made for Sergio Ramos or Pepe, both are returning from injuries and have been overshadowed by Varane this campaign.
Gerard Pique (CB)
Partnering Varane in the centre of the defence will be Gerard Pique. He has been a rock at the back for the Blaugrana and has had to shoulder extra responsibilities given the poor run of form for Javier Mascherano and injuries to the likes of Jeremy Mathieu and Samuel Umtiti.
Sergi Roberto (RB)
A season where the right-back position has been of much concern to Barcelona, Sergi Roberto has impressed everyone in his makeshift role and just edges out Dani Carvajal by the slimmest of the margins in this combined XI. He has created the most number of chances in La Liga for a defender and has managed to add a solidity to the defensive side of his game.
Sergio Busquets (DM)
There is just nobody better than the Spaniard in his position. Brilliant at recycling the possession, can start attacks for his team lying deep in the centre of the park and offers a screen to his defenders. A no-brainer selection in this line-up. He has had a slow start to the season compared to his usual standards, but there is no doubting his immense quality.
Luka Modric (CM)
Another no-brainer. Modric has been one of the best midfielders in the La Liga and arguably in the whole of Europe for the past few seasons. Controls the game for Madrid from the middle of the park and has stepped up admirably in the absence of Toni Kroos and Casemiro.
Andres Iniesta (CM)
The 32-year-old still remains a key cog in the midfield for Barcelona as he provides that much-needed link between his side’s midfield and attack. His absence was felt by the Catalans with Andre Gomes struggling to fill in for the Spaniard. After being five weeks out, he may start Saturday’s game on the bench, but Luis Enrique will call upon him at some stage of the game.
Cristiano Ronaldo (LW)
One cannot just leave out the league’s top scorer, right? Cristiano has managed to score 10 goals so far and has been on fire recently, having grabbed a magnificent hat-trick against local rivals Atletico Madrid, and following it up with another double against Sporting Gijon. Sergi Roberto will have his task cut out against the Portuguese on Saturday.
Lionel Messi (RW)
One of the shining lights of a mixed season so far for Barcelona, the Argentine scored the leveller for his side against Sociedad last week. He is La Liga’s second top scorer this term with 9 goals, one behind his fiercest rival and also the Clasico’s top scorer with 21 goals. He will have a major role to play come Saturday.
Luis Suarez (ST)
The Uruguayan is, without question, one of the best centre-forwards on the planet. He has scored 8 times this season for the current La Liga holders and features in this line-up ahead of Karim Benzema. The former Liverpool man has outdone Benzema in all aspects of the game ever since moving to Barcelona in 2014/15 and it has been the same story this year as well. He has only one goal in his last five games, but knowing Suarez he might just turn up the heat in the Clasico.