The day has finally arrived, El Clasico is upon us. Whenever Real Madrid and Barcelona lock horns, it’s a special occasion not only for the players and the fans but also for the footballing fraternity as a whole. The importance of this game just can’t be questioned and more so today because it could have a direct effect on who is crowned the Champions of La Liga at the end of the season.
Having progressed to the next round of the Champions League, Real Madrid are full of confidence. Gareth Bale is back into the squad after missing two games due to injury. It will be interesting to see whether he makes it to the starting XI. Pepe and Varane, however, are still out. So the onus will be on Captain Sergio Ramos and Nacho to steer the backline. Real Madrid’s fullbacks Marcelo and Carvajal have been in tremendous form and could well have a say on the outcome of the match. In midfield, it will be the same with Kroos and Modric playing in front of Casemiro. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 5 goals in his last 2 games achieving a milestone of 100 Champions League goals in the process. He will again be the man Real Madrid will look forward to for goals. Karim Benzema will partner him up front. The 3rd forward is where it gets a little messy. Bale is an automatic choice whenever he’s fit but Isco and Asensio have been in the form of their lives lately which makes Zizou’s decision a lot trickier.
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Barcelona are not in their best phase of the season having being knocked out by Juventus in the Champions League and winning just 2 of their last 5 games. It is still unclear whether Neymar, who has been Barça’s best player recently will play the match or not. In his absence, the sensational Lionel Messi will take the centre-stage. The Argentine hasn’t shown his best form in El Clasico off late but all it takes is a moment of brilliance from the iconic #10. Luis Enrique will go all guns blazing as he knows his side can ill-afford to lose this match. Expect the midfield trio of Iniesta, Busquets and Rakitic to provide ample attacking options. Pique and Umtiti will take their place in the heart of the defence with Roberto and Alba guarding the flanks. Messi and Suarez will most certainly take their places but the 3rd slot is still up for grabs. Paco Alcacer hasn’t done enough this season to really pressurise the coveted ‘MSN’ but Clasico is the grandest stage there is. A good performance in the biggest match of the year could go a long way in solidifying his place in the team.
Key Player: Lionel Messi
All Or Nothing:
Zinedine Zidane played down the fact that today’s match will not be a title decider. Maybe he said this just to ease the pressure but deep down he would know the importance of the match and the bearing it could have on the league campaign. There are just 3 points separating the two sides. It couldn’t have been any closer with just 6 games to go. Fans of one club could be ruing the missed chances while fans of the other could be rejoicing. Whatever be the outcome, it is expected to be a nail-biter.