El Clasico : predicted lineups
It’s the first El Clasico of the season and the first for Rafa Benitez heralds Real Madrid. What does he have to do to make sure that his squad turn out to be the winning side? And how will Barcelona chief Luis Enrique face the game against the notorious rival?
Lionel Messi’s fitness and return will be the key to everything. If he starts with the kick off, then it should be pretty much Barca’s strongest side save Ivan Rakitic who doesn’t look like promising enough to be fit and in that case, will be replaced by Sergi Roberto in midfield.
In the absence of Lionel Messi, Barca have tried different formations – 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 – and it seems they will, depending on the outcome with Rakitic, still play with three forwards. That would imply Munir El Haddadi could play as a part of the striking end along with Suarez and Neymar.
Mascherano is back so he will assist Pique in defence and Busquets, who has been outstanding, will be in front of them, with Claudio Bravo defending the goal.
Real Madrid have to find a proper balance between forwards that don’t tend to defend too much and a confident midfield that gets too exposed if that happens. Benzema is not delivering his best and he is absolutely vital to gel the players up front – to assist Ronaldo and Bale in a better way with the one-twos and swift and sneaky runs to create space. If it happens that he does not start, that will require adding another midfielder which has the potential to make life tough for Barcelona.
Benitez would love to root deep and hit Barca on the break but he is stubborn enough to take the game to them, especially with the advantage of the support of a home crowd.
But both teams know that form counts for very little when it’s El Clasico. In fact it’s often been witnessed that the team who offered a rather rusty performance in the clash, were the ones to have the last smile.
Let’s just sit back and enjoy the match as it is, folks!