Match: Real Madrid VS Barcelona
Competition: La Liga
Location: Santiago Bernabeu
Time: October 25, 2014 – 7:00 PM (KSA)

In a game where past form, recent results, and pre-match analyses are usually thrown out the window, we now prepare for one of the biggest games of the season: El Clasico. Barcelona will visit Real Madrid as both teams come into this game on great form. Biggest news of the night? The return of Luis Suarez for the Catalans.

Let’s take a look at each team as they prepare for this major game:

Real Madrid – 

Real Madrid come into this game after beating Liverpool on Wednesday night during the UEFA Champions League. Even though Carlo Ancelotti was able to name a strong starting lineup, players such as Daniel Carvajal, Toni Kroos, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Marcelo were given some rest as they prepare for the match on Saturday night. Los Merengues haven’t really had the best of starts to La Liga but they were quickly able to find their balance and have found ways to outscore their opponents on several occasions.

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Unfortunately, they still face a problem that the recent managers simply cannot fix: Defense. There have been many games where Real Madrid have conceded goals from set-pieces as the defense seem as though they simply have no clue what is going on! With that said, it looks to have improved a little recently but the major test will be coming for them tomorrow night. Barcelona have shown everyone that they can score in practically any situation and they will surely be looking to put in a few goals into the back of the net.

Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that he MAY be including a surprise for the Catalans tomorrow night but I simply see it as merely mind-games in order to have a slight upper hand before the game begins. I don’t see any surprises from the Italian manager tomorrow night as he will certainly be looking to field his best possible starting eleven. If anything, we may end up seeing Alvaro Arbeloa at left-back instead of Marcelo. The Spanish defender has played one of his best games this year against Liverpool and will want to keep up his form. Would that change be a good idea though? It’s quite difficult to tell right now but we will have to wait and see.

Real Madrid’s Past 5 Games – 

Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid [UEFA Champions League]
Levante 0-5 Real Madrid [La Liga]
Real Madrid 5-0 Athletic Bilbao [La Liga]
Ludogorets 1-2 Real Madrid [UEFA Champions League]
Villarreal 0-2 Real Madrid [La Liga]

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I mentioned earlier that Real Madrid have had a problem with set pieces but have fixed it recently and it shows in the past five games. Los Merengues have only conceded one goal in five games (yes, a set-piece against Ludogorets) while they have been able to score an astonishing 17 goals. They are on great form now and, on paper, it looks like it’s the perfect time to be playing against Barcelona. But, as we all know way too well, form doesn’t matter and anything is possible in football.

My Predicted Real Madrid Lineup –

Iker Casillas, Daniel Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez, Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema

With Gareth Bale injured, it seems as though Isco will be the man to take his place once again. Also, Sergio Ramos is expected to be back on the night and should be placed alongside Pepe with Raphael Varane back on the bench. James Rodriguez didn’t impress too much against Liverpool but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be getting an opportunity to show his skills and form against the Catalans during Real Madrid’s first major game this year.

Barcelona:

Barcelona come into this game as they are in the form of their lives. Shockingly, they have yet to concede a single goal in La Liga and they sit on the top of the league, 4 points ahead of their rivals, Real Madrid. After securing a slightly comfortable win on Tuesday night against Ajax Amsterdam in the UEFA Champions League, they now look forward to playing Real Madrid as they are in great form at the moment.

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The biggest news for the upcoming Clasico is the return of Luis Suarez, who has been banned since his biting incident on Chiellini during the FIFA World Cup. There is no denying that he is the one of the best strikers out there and he will be relishing the opportunity to make his La Liga debut against Barcelona’s rivals. With that said, I’m personally not expecting him to start the game but we will see him at some point during the second half. The amount that he is expected to play will possibly depend on how the game is going as Barcelona’s manager, Jose Enrique, will want to make sure that he still makes the correct decisions.

This will be Luis Enrique’s first Clasico as a manager and he will want to start it off with all three points. Why not? The Catalans are on sizzling form and a win against Real Madrid will increase the gap to seven points. Also, it will help boost up their self-esteem even more as they continue to fight for all possible titles. No team is guaranteed to win tomorrow night but both teams need it for different reasons.

Barcelona’s Past 5 Games – 

Barcelona 3-1 Ajax [UEFA Champions League]
Barcelona 3-0 Eibar [La Liga]
Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Barcelona [La Liga]
PSG 3-2 Barcelona [UEFA Champions League]
Barcelona 6-0 Granada [La Liga]

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As mentioned earlier, Barcelona have been in great form recently with their only loss coming from PSG in the UEFA Champions League. Even though that loss may give Real Madrid fans some hope, it really shouldn’t. Barcelona played their first team but the major change was their goalkeeper, who was ter Stegen, as opposed to the goalkeeper who has yet to concede a goal in a Barcelona shirt, Claudio Bravo. True, they fielded a great team, but that should be seen as only a hiccup in a team who have been on form.

My Predicted Barcelona Lineup – 

Claudio Bravo, Dani Alves, Jeremy Mathieu, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Neymar, Pedro

Again, I am not expecting Luis Suarez to start the match but Barcelona still have a team that are more than strong enough to compete in this game. Also, many are suggesting that we will see Munir El Haddadi get a surprise start but I don’t see it happening since Pedro is more experienced than Munir. Anything is possible though.

Overall:

El Clasico is one of the biggest games of the year as many will be preparing to watch it. Predicting the game is practically impossible as we have seen in recent years and therefore we will all be watching the game and simply not knowing what to expect on the night.

Hala Madrid y Nada Mas!

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