FC Barcelona welcome Real Madrid to the Spotify Camp Nou in what is expected to be a potential league title decider just a fair distance from the actual La Liga Santander finishing line.
First-placed FC Barcelona with an accumulation of 65 points from 25 games take on El Clasico rivals and second-placed Real Madrid, who themselves have accumulated 56 points from the same number of games. Here is how the hosts could line up:
Goalkeeper: Marc Andre Ter Stegen
In the form of his life, this is arguably the best version of Ter Stegen on an individual level that we have seen to date. The German international is successfully claiming clean sheet after clean sheet, and the hope is that he can manage to do so yet again against La Liga’s highest-scoring side this season.
Right-back: Ronald Araujo
Against Real Madrid, and particularly Vinicius Jr, it seems to be Xavi’s preferred stance to have Ronald Araujo dispatched at right back to counter the ever-present threat of Vinicius Jr, and it has worked to great effect. The Uruguayan behemoth of a defender will once again be tasked to keep the tricky Brazilian at bay to nullify a huge asset of Los Blancos’s.
Centre-back: Jules Kounde
The Frenchman will be tasked this time around to secure Barcelona’s central channels in defense, as he will likely have to obstruct any and all goal-scoring opportunities that are presented to Karim Benzema, a massive task that can not be stressed enough upon.
Centre-back: Andreas Christensen
The presence of the Danish defender should not be understated, as it is quite integral to the Catalan structure and important even in possession to the Blaugrana. Christensen will be paired up with Jules Kounde in the heart of the defensive line.
Left-back: Alejandro Balde
Alejandro Balde’s flashy traits and electric pace are a culmination of various traits that make him such a huge asset to have for FC Barcelona on the left-hand side of the defense. He will be tasked with marshaling that rather vulnerable flank for La Blaugrana.
CDM: Sergio Busquets
The Barcelona captain has a fair amount of experience against Real Madrid himself and will be looking to add another victory to his memorable collection. His line-breaking passes and ability to find pockets of space and openings remain unparalleled, and he will be essential to the Barcelona game plan come El Clasico.
CM: Frenkie De Jong
Frenkie De Jong has more or less become irreplaceable for Xavi Hernandez, and for very valid causes. The Dutchman provides certainty in his technical prowess and composure on the ball as well, and has become a ball-progressing asset few in Europe can hope to match in quality.
CM: Franck Kessie
The Ivorian midfielder was arguably the primary reason the Catalans were able to produce that 1-0 win against Real Madrid in the Copa Del Ray semi-final at the Bernabeu, and his presence and sense of finding good spaces to take aim at goal can prove to be vital yet again.
The Brazilian winger is enjoying perhaps his best spell of form at FC Barcelona this season, becoming a pivotal focal point for a lot of Barcelona’s goal contributions and creative actions. As he prepares to face off against Real Madrid, here’s to hoping he continues this impressive run of form.
Centre-forward: Robert Lewandowski
On a bit of a goal drought, Robert Lewandowski will be looking at Real Madrid of all opponents to break free from the shackles of a few rather uninspired performances in recent weeks. The Polish international, despite a slump in form, remains a massive goal threat that Real Madrid will need to address nonetheless.
The tenacious youngster always seems to have an extra bite to him every time Real Madrid come around, and that is just the way the Catalans want him to be. Fighting for every second ball and attempting to always pressurize Madrid, Gavi can be a real menace to have to deal with.
Goalkeeper: Ter Stegen
Defenders: Balde, Christensen, Kounde, Araujo
Midfielders: Kessie, Busquets, De Jong
Forwards: Gavi, Lewandowski, Raphinha