El Clasico. Suarez’ Boots and Bites! En Guardia, Real.
Catalonia Vs Castilla
Barcelona vs Real Madrid….
MSN vs BBC (without Bale)
Lionel Messi Vs Cristiano Ronaldo
Build Ups cannot get better than this.
Stage Set for a Classic Weekend Night for Indians
The Stage is set for a great match of the world’s beautiful sport. Undoubtedly the match with maximum rivalry, we all await Europe’s top two teams with the best attacking Trios facing off today. Real Madrid will surely miss attacker Gareth Bale who is out with an injured leg.
Heading into the match, Real looks the better side being unbeaten over the past 30+ games. Barcelona has in the past few matches lost or drawn with relatively weaker teams on paper like Alaves, Malaga, Real Sociedad. However history cautions us. Most of the El Clasicos have gone to the team which looked weaker in the pre-game analyses.
From this angle we see Barcelona getting strengthened with the return of players like Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta who were out due to injury. Real would be missing the services of a few. But very critically, midfielder Toni Kroos, winger Gareth Bale and striker Alvaro Morata. But on the bright side, Luka Modric and Casemiro are back from injury.
Real is bestowed when it comes to the kinds of mid-fielders each team needs. The holding mid-fielder (Casemiro is one of the best), the chance creator (Modric, arguably the best. Others may prefer Ozil or Iniesta but Modric has come through in the past two seasons) and the passer or pass master (Kroos it is). Though Kovacic and Isco proved to be adept at midfield in the absence of Modric and Casemiro, they lack the passing skills of Kroos, currently the best in the world.
Benzema’s presence minimizes the worry on account of Morata’s injury. The Real Maddening poser is whether Zidane would prefer James Rodriguez or Lucas Vazquez as Bale’s replacement. James Rodriguez may be just the sixth in the pecking order for coach Zidane project management tools. But the highest scorer in the 2014 World Cup, can, on his day, produce moments of magic. Who can forget his enchanted assist to CR7 in the 2014-15 season against Liverpool at Anfield?
Both Ronaldo and Bale being inverted wingers, cut inside with their stronger foot allowing space for Real’s full backs to run into. Playing James in place of Bale would create a similar situation but Lucas being right-footed pushes wider. This enables him to deliver crosses where the ball cries to be headed into goal….for the likes of Ronaldo to score. Also as Lucas moves wider, it creates space for Real’s midfielders to move into.
Real Madrid are most likely to play with Goal-keeper: Keylor Navas; Defenders: Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Mid-fielders: Modric, Isco, Casemiro; Forwards: CR7, Benzema, Lucas. (Key Injuries: Bale, Kroos, Morata)
Unlike Real Madrid, Barcelona can feature their first choice eleven. With Marc Andre Ter-Stegen in goal; Sergio Roberto, Samuel Umtiti / Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba form the back four; the mid-field trio will be Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta; the forward line will undoubtedly be MSN – Messi, Suarez and Neymar.
Although the defence looks solid, Barca has been vulnerable to counter-attacks especially in recent matches. Sergio Roberto also has to contend with Cristiano Ronaldo. Unlike Dani Alves, Roberto isn’t a natural fullback. Barca fans must miss Dani who left them this summer to join Juventus. However, Roberto along with Messi would look to capitalize on the right as Real’s defender Marcelo often gets caught upfield. On the left, Neymar will be aptly supported by Jordi Alba. Iniesta’s link-up play between the Barca midfield and forward-line will be crucial and may well be the difference today.
Busquets, under Barca manager Luis Enrique has blossomed and seems to be the world’s best holding midfielder currently. But the worry for Enrique must be that Busquets has not been having great games of late. Rakitic will be crucial to move the ball around not only as the game flows but also in set pieces. Rakitic’s improved ariel ability would make him a threat during corners and free-kicks.
Waiting for the Kick-off
With Real boasting CR7 and Ramos to compare with Pique and Rakitic, today’s set piece play would no doubt be exciting and important as well. Barca also has the world’s best striker at the moment, Suarez.
To conclude, whether you are neutral or one of these teams’ ardent fans, you would not want to miss the action today at Sony Six at 8:45 pm IST. Let’s watch Real players guarding both their goal and skin from Suarez’s boots and bites!