Today see’s Spain’s two biggest clubs meet for the first time this season @ the Nou Camp.
Real Madrid currently sit top of La Liga – six points clear of their Catalan rivals. Win today and they can extend that lead to a whopping nine points over their biggest challengers to regain the league crown, they have not won since 2012.
Going into the match; La Blanco’s boss Zinedine Zidane has got his team playing with a new found resilience and unity. At times this season Madrid have scrapped the ‘winning pretty galactico’ philosophy for a more: hard fought, collective mentality. The unfancied, yet hard working Casemiro gives balance to Zidane’s Real Madrid whilst star players like James Rodriquez look on. In the past ‘stellar names’ would have been shoe horned into the side on name alone.
With Gareth Bale now out injured for some considerable time, means that Karim Benzema is likely to come in upfront with Ronaldo (who currently leads to La Liga scoring charts with 10 goals) reverting out wide.
Zidane – who played for both Madrid and Juventus, is now making his mark on his side with a more tactical and disciplined approach. This seems to be working as they lead La Liga and have won their last six games in a row. Their actually on a 30 game unbeaten run, stretching back to last April.
Barcelona on the other hand; renowned for their Majestical ‘Tiki Taka, have only won three of their last seven games. They drew their last two matches, with manager Luis Enrique stating their last game – a 1-1 draw away to Real Sociedad- was the “worst performance”, since he took charge.
Ironically it seems the table are now turned in La Liga as Barcelona are now the team who increasingly show signs of over-relying on their own stellar MSN forward line of Messi, Suarez and Neymar rather than display the collective togetherness, that has brought them so much success of the years.
You can never rule Barcelona out of the running and they are still the team to beat in Spain. The return of Andres Iniesta will come as a great boost to Luis Enrique as they look to turn around the recent run of results.
POSSIBLE LINE UP’S
On paper and with Real missing the injured Gareth Bale, who have to think home advantage will favour a Barcelona win and be the catalyst to turn around their season.
The form guide would favour Madrid but for such a big game, all logic goes out the window.
Personally I’ll sit on the fence and go for a score draw – 2-2.
Roll on El Clasico!
El Clasico Stats
Thanks to our friend Moha @ http://www.mysoccerhq.com for this fabulous El Classico infographic!