Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: Latest Buildup, Team News for El Clasico
It's difficult to pay any attention to the rest of La Liga this weekend as all eyes will be on the spectacle that is El Clasico.
On Sunday night, the two best club sides in world football will take to the field for their first meaningful game of the season.
The Super Cup was certainly worth winning, but between now and May 2013, there will be plenty more crucial games—this upcoming fixture being the first.
Does it hold more importance for one team and not the other? Probably not. It's Barca v Real, the fans know how important it is—these results define seasons and for Real. It's arguably already a must-win.
Let's assess the two powerhouses.
Would anyone have predicted the current La Liga champions trailing their bitter rivals by eight points this early in the season? I think not.
Tito Vilanova could not have asked for a better start—they're a perfect six for six while losses at Sevilla and Getafe along with an opening day draw with Valencia have left Madrid floundering in sixth.
Of course it's early days, but at the same time I cannot see Barcelona giving up an eleven-point lead whatever point it is in the season.
It just won't happen.
Ironically, a Madrid win could see Atletico Madrid topping the table come Sunday night, but realistically it's a two-horse race at the moment. However, a Messi inspired three points could see the filly from Catalonia go clear entering the back straight.
Who will Win El Clasico?
One thing is for certain: Madrid cannot afford to lose this game and realistically they have to go into the lions den and come away with all three points to re-ignite their title defence.
The big news heading into the game are the defensive woes of Barcelona. Carlos Puyol is out indefinitely after that horrific elbow dislocation in midweek while Gerard Pique (foot) is also expected to miss the game.
Step up Javier Mascherano and Alex Song to fill the deep void left by the two regulars. The question is, have they got what it takes to stop the Madrid attack?
Thiago Alcantara (knee) also misses the game, but Andres Iniesta makes a welcome return to the squad.
Although Cesc Fabregas has been in magnificent form, he might have to make way for a midfield three of Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Busquets supporting Messi, Tello and Alexis Sanchez although Pedro may have something to say about that.
Real Madrid have a fully fit squad to choose from with only Sami Khedira a slight doubt, although he did come on as a second-half substitute with Ajax in midweek.
Xabi Alonso and Luca Modric should start in midfield and support the three-pronged attack of Ronaldo, Di Maria and Benzema.
Don't leave your seats in the 17th minute as the Barcelona fans with offer a vocal demonstration of their motto "more than a club"
The Catalan national anthem will erupt around the stadium to commemorate the date September 11, 1714, where many Catalans died during the War of Spanish Succession.
This is huge game for Barcelona, and an even bigger one for Real Madrid. They need to win the game and will not get a better opportunity with the makeshift centre-backs on offer—although both are more than capable.
Ronaldo is on the back of two straight hat-tricks and will obviously be the one to watch.
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