Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona, El Clasico

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    The first Clasico of the season is here as Real Madrid hosts their traditional rivals Barcelona on November 21st in a massive top of the table clash. It would be pretty early to call it a championship decider, but three points would be vital for both of these rivals as Barcelona look to extend their lead to six points and Madrid look to take over the 1st position from Barcelona on goal difference. The game looks to be a significant indicator of where these two teams stand at the half way stage, and could be a platform for them to go on a good run of form. Here’s the team news and strengths and weaknesses of both teams.

    Barcelona:

    After eleven games, Barcelona is sitting at the top of the table 3 points ahead of their fiercest rivals. If they win this week in the Classico, they will extend their lead up to six points at the top of the table. The main concern for the Luis Enrique side is the fitness of Lionel Messi, with the manager stating that Messi is not 100% fit and a decision of Messi’s inclusion will be taken an hour before the match. In his absence Neymar and Suarez have stepped up with the goals. The duo have netted 16 Liga goals together since Messi’s absence and the pair will give a tough time to the Real Madrid defense. Andres Iniesta will captain his side against Madrid for the first time and as stated in his conference he is targeting an away victory that would move them six points clear of their fierce rivals at the top of the La Liga. With Ivan Racktic back in squad in the midfield with Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, Luis Enrique has a fully fit side with just Messi’s fitness in question.

    Real Madrid:

    Real Madrid will be under immense pressure as they host their bitter rivals Barcelona while eyeing the top spot in the table on goal difference. Rafael Benitez defensive tactics have been recently criticized and his performance as the head coach has come under scrutiny. Madrid’s major concern is a slump in form of its star forward Cristiano Ronaldo who has only scored four goals so far in the league. Defeat to Sevilla in the last match was Madrid’s first in the league this season but with the return of both Bale and Benzema, hopes are high that Madrid will come out on top in such a crucial game. Sergio Ramos is expected to play despite a shoulder problem. The Classico will play a significant role in determining just how serious Madrid is about winning the league title in 2015-2016. A loss to the Blaugrana on home soil would leave Madrid in a difficult situation.

    MATCH FACTS:

    Each of the last nine clásicos in La Liga have seen both sides score

    In their last league game against Sevilla, Real Madrid conceded three goals – only one fewer than the total goals they conceded in each of previous 10 games combined (four).

    Real Madrid has only won two of their last seven La Liga home games against Barcelona (D1 L4).

    In all competitions, Real have three wins in the last 12 home games against Barça (D3 L6).

    If Messi scores in this game, he would become “El Clásico” top scorer in La Liga

     

    Match Information

    Date: Saturday 21st November 2015

    Venue: Estadio Santigo Bernabeu

    Time: 6.15pm CET/ 10:15 pm Pakistani time

    Referee: David Fernandez Borbalan

     

    Probable Line ups:

    Real Madrid:
    Keylor Navas, Danilo, Sergio ramos, pepe, Marcelo, toni kroos, luka modric, James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

    Barcelona:
    C.Bravo, Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Sergio Buesquets, Ivan Racktic, Andres Iniesta, Munir, Suarez, Neymar

    Prediction: 2-1 Barcelona

    By Mubeen Jehangir

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