It’s here, the year’s most anticipated match with some of the world’s best players. Real Madrid are going through tough times, with uncertainty and poor results.
On the other hand, FC Barcelona are on the rise, with the best Messi taking them to the top of La Liga, the Copa del Rey final and UCL quarter-finals. None of this matters since anything can happen in El Clásico and none of them will settle for less than a win.
Preferred Formation: 4-3-3
Despite the campaign from the press and fans for the 4-4-2, Carlo Ancelotti will stick with his 4-3-3 system.
With the same pros and cons we’ve known since its inception, it will come down to the players’ willingness to work together ad a team. Being disconnected and rely on individual talents won’t be enough at the Camp Nou and with a plethoric Messi.
GK: Iker Casillas
He’s had over a week to get strong after the Schalke debacle. Navas doesn’t have the form to play such a big game, so there’s very little doubt Iker will start. This will be his return to the Camp Nou.
RB: Dani Carvajal
Another player that hasn’t really shined against the arch rival. Bale and him tend to go all out in attack and become very lazy in the back. That needs to be more balanced on Sunday.
He led the way to the comeback in October after a poor first half. He must stay more focused in defense, as there’s a lot of threats to take care of. His partner and him need to give it all, or Varane might take their place.
CB: Sergio Ramos
Back and recovered, the defense could use his strength and the attack can benefit from his aerial ability. He must be Messi’s shadow and think faster than the Argentinian. Ancelotti is putting a lot of trust in him.
His performances versus the Blaugranas aren’t really positive. He has to control Dani Alves’ forward runs and reach the BBC at the same time. He must take his defensive implication seriously.
RCM: Luka Modrić
Kroos will certainly be happy to see the Croatian play the full match. Their role as box-to-box midfielders will dictate how the game will go. It’s up to this entire zone to keep the ball away from Rakitić and company.
CM: Toni Kroos
His first full break from La Liga came last week, almost seven months after the start of the competition. While this is not enough rest, hopefully he brings back the Toni we’ve seen earlier this season.
Hailed as “the new Iniesta,” this is his chance to overtake Andrés. As the 4-3-3 will be the system, Marcelo and him will need to cover their wing carefully. That balance of attack and defense starts with him.
RW: Gareth Bale
He’s the only one of the BBC that doesn’t know what celebrating in enemy ground is like. The Copa del Rey final should be the performance to replicate. His implication in defense will be extremely important.
ST: Karim Benzema
Unlike Cristiano, he’s scored only twice at Barça’s ground and never in La Liga. Last year he came in and revolutionized the game. He has to do the same, as the rival’s weakest link is the defense.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
He’s scored eight goals here; even more than at the Bernabéu. The anger and frustration he’s shown recently should be used to winning on Sunday. We know how he competes with Messi and should look at reclaiming the Pichichi.