CaughtOffside’s El Classico preview.
Where: Nou Camp, Barcelona
When: Saturday October 26th, 2013 17:00 (UK Time)
Watch Live: Click here to watch live with Sky
Predicted line ups –
The first Classico of the season is upon us and is sure to be a monumental encounter. Both sides splashed out on a new big signing of their own over the summer and, though only one is expected to start.
Neymar has settled into Spanish life well since joining up from Santos, and though he hasn’t scored as many goals as expected (or as many as he’d like to have) he is a consistent headache for any defence he comes up against.
Madrid’s new golden boy Gareth Bale is still recovering from a thigh injury that has seen him largely reduced to the role of a spectator so far this season, though a short run out in the Champions League during the week could be enough to blow the cobwebs away and stand him in good stead to at least get some game time.
It’s clear, though, that Madrid are missing what Xabi Alonso usually brings to the side. Ancelotti has hoped that Sami Khedira could fill his boots, and against Juventus placed the normally more forward Luka Modric alongside him.
Neymar vs Arbeloa
Alvaro Arbeloa has made a name for himself as one of the most consistently underrated full backs in the world right now and nary do his performances get singled out for riotous praise or diminishing criticism.
However, he will be in for a real test in front of the impressive Neymar and how he fares is likely to have a huge say in which way this game goes.
On Paper Arbeloa is the weak point at the back for Madrid, and Neymar will look to exploit this.
Isco vs Sergio Busquets
Now that Mesut Ozil is just is distant memory within the ranks of Los Blancos, it’s fallen to new boy Isco to fill his boots and carry on from where he left off.
So far it’s gone well, but Isco won’t face opposition of Barca’s calibre every week, so this is going to be a true test of what he can do and how he will go about doing it.
Now charged with pulling the strings for Madrid, Busquets will be looking to stop him in what could be the most vital battle of the evening. Barca will know that the majority of Real’s attacking will come through the former Malaga man, and stopping him will be key as to who comes out on top with the full three points.
Ronaldo vs Alves
It’s always a pleasure to watch these two come up against each other and this will be no different.
IT’s often suggested that Ronaldo’s battle is with Messi, but on the pitch they rarely cross each other’s paths, instead it’s how he deals with the stocky Brazilian that will have more of a say as to who comes out victorious.
Alves is known as one that likes to surge forward, whether in possession or in support of an attack, and Ronaldo will look to exploit this and get in behind him as often as possible.
However, when back and in position, Ronaldo will need help in overcoming him, such is his experience and ability that he is one of the very few defenders of this world that don’t have nightmares the night before they meet.
Head to head:
Real Madrid got the better of these two fixtures last season, picking up a 3-1 victory at the Nou Camp before managing to put together a 2-1 win at the Bernabeu a few short months later.
However, Barcelona generally have the run of the tie historically, winning 22 of the last 53 encounters compared to Real’s 15.