We take a look ahead to Saturday’s ‘Clasico’ clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona from the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid: Zinedine Zidane has no fresh injuries concerns ahead of this one after insisting that both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo are 100% fit to play. Ronaldo has barely trained all week as a precaution after a slight calf niggle but he is expected to start alongside Karim Benzema in attack. Bale meanwhile, ia likely to start on this bench as Real look to ease him back into action. Defender Raphael Varane is also back fit, with central defensive partner Sergio Ramos and midfielder Casemiro also available after suspension.
Barcelona: Defender Samuel Umtiti is out injured until the New Year, meaning that Thomas Vermaelen should slot in once again alongside Gerard Pique at centre-back. Sergi Roberto is expected to get the nod at right-back ahead of Nelson Semedo, whilst Brazilian midfielder Paulinho is likely to play in behind Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Playmaker Rafinha has not been included in Ernesto Valverde’s squad despite returning to training this week, whilst Paco Alcacer, Ousmane Dembele, Gerard Deulofeu and Arda Turan will all also play no part against the champions due to injury.
Did you know?
Barcelona have won 20 of their last 23 La Liga games.
Real Madrid have scored at least two goals in each of their last four meetings with their arch-rivals in all competitions.
The thoughts of Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane on whether the game will decide the title race:
“No, whatever happens tomorrow we will keep working and keep thinking.
“There’s still a long way to go and tomorrow is just three points. We know we have to play well, but it won’t change anything, whatever happens.
“I’m sure it’ll be the most difficult game of season, Barca-Madrid games always are. They’re great, but they’re always difficult.
“We like that. That’s why the players go out – we want these games. You know that to win the league, although it’s not just down to these games, Clasicos are very important for winning the league and the players always think about this sort of thing.”
The thoughts of Barcelona boss Ernersto Valverde:
“It won’t be decisive, certainly not. We don’t really talk about consequences of games until the game is over.
“There is no point talking about what would happen if we win, draw or lose until the game has been played.
“No matter what happens tomorrow there is a long road ahead.
“I don’t think we are favourites. The league table is perhaps of least importance in these games, they are very special games.
“It’s about the tension between the teams. They have home advantage, which is very important. So, I wouldn’t say we’re favourites, no.”
Real Madrid: Navas, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Kroos, Casemiro, Modric, Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Pique, Vermaelen, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Paulinho, Iniesta, Suarez, Messi.