It’s that time of the year again, two of the world’s biggest teams will fight one more time in an electrifying match. Regardless of what happened in recent games to each team, it’s near impossible for El Clásico to lose any sort of importance. With Messi’s possible return and Real’s clearance of the treatment room, this is bound to be a true clash of titans, with both looking to take the three points.
Preferred Formation: 4-4-2
Following his first loss and being aware of this weekend’s showdown, Rafa Benítez may be considering switching up his system. Like last year’s 4-4-2 that worked to beat Barça, the coach would replicate it this time around to help control the rival and close possible loopholes. However, there are still many doubts, as Benzema, Casemiro and Carvajal could easily steal a spot.
GK: Keylor Navas
His recovery is one of the biggest blessings for Real, as his form this year has been excellent. This will be his first Clásico, and as such, the pressure will be very intense. Even so, he’s prepared for a moment like this.
He just hopped off the plane from traveling with the Brazil national team. This will be one of the biggest doubts of the lineup, as Carvajal is healthy. Nevertheless, he’s been absent for a while and not being on the same level as his teammates can be harmful.
CB: Raphaël Varane
He only played about 20 minutes against Barcelona in the last season, as Pepe was ahead of him at the time. It’s different now, as the Frenchman has become an integral part of the team’s defense.
CB: Sergio Ramos
The captain has been a bit unlucky with his shoulder injury. He almost triggered all of the alarms this week with a possible relapse. However, he will play even if he needs to go to extreme measures to ease his pain.
He had the entire international break to get better and that he did. Probably one of the squad’s most important weapons, his absence in Sevilla hurt the team greatly. A match of this caliber needs the Brazilian.
RM: James Rodríguez
Similar to Danilo, he traveled with the Colombia national team during the break. He also played 180 minutes, so he will arrive with a bit of fatigue. Despite this, Benítez can’t afford to keep him out.
RCM: Luka Modrić
His past few performances haven’t been up to par with what he can offer. Still, he’s most likely going to start. There’s a minor chance he could be replaced by Casemiro, but it will probably be Kroos who is benched if that happens.
LCM: Toni Kroos
Not sending out his best midfield available would be a mistake by the manager. Casemiro does provide strength and attitude to that zone, yet Real will go out looking for the win, not staying put and settling for the 0-0.
He’s gained momentum and chances of starting El Clásico. While Benzema is available, if the system does change to the 4-4-2, Isco’s presence is almost guaranteed. On the other hand, if the 4-2-3-1 is kept, the Frenchman might have the advantage.
RF: Gareth Bale
Like many other players, he’s overcome his physical problems and is prepared to play. His form has been very disappointing lately, so this is the best possible time for him to step it up. An off day is not an option against the fierce rivals.
LF: Cristiano Ronaldo
Also skipping the international break, the Portuguese has had some time to get focused and fit for this challenge. His performances versus Barça in recent seasons haven’t been all that great, so it’s time for a change.