With el Clásico kicking off this Saturday at Noon ET, speculation is rife as to team selections, tactical tweaks and possible individual brilliance that could determine who will take the spoils in the first meeting of Spain’s big two of the 2014-15 campaign.
It is one of the few matches in world soccer which engages the masses. The age old Messi vs Ronaldo debate happening directly on the pitch rather than in the media, just how the midfield battle will play out given Barcelona’s relatively new look middle three incorporating Ivan Rakitic as well as Real Madrid’s new midfield bereft of the infectious energy provided by the widely revered ‘noodle’ Angel Di Maria.
Programming note: For viewers in the United States, this Saturday’s el Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona will be shown live on beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS Espanol and DishWorld (with coverage beginning at 11am ET). Even if you don’t have a TV subscription to beIN SPORTS, you can access those channels via online streaming service fuboTV for $10/month. Read our review of DishWorld. And sign up for fuboTV via their website.
The first point of interest will be whether or not Luis Suarez makes his competitive debut for Barcelona. Ever since fate rather mischievously drew the pair together for the first Matchday weekend where Suarez would be free from his suspension, the talk has been whether the former Liverpool star will play.
He is Barcelona’s record signing. Of course he has to play, right? Not necessarily. Luis Enrique has been very methodical with his team selection this season and has brought a freshness to Barcelona. Now very few players are guaranteed their shirt and as such we have seen a real upward surge in the performances of certain players.
In terms of the spectacle, it would be fantastic to see Suarez play a part. The front three of Neymar, Messi and Suarez is one almost out of the reach of dream team’s realms of possibility, let alone the ones set in reality. Yet here we are with three of the best forwards in world soccer, on the same team.
Real Madrid’s defenders will be in for a difficult evening but Ancelotti’s side are the hosts and will be expected to attack as such. Revenge will be at the forefront of Madrid’s minds with Barcelona having recorded a domestic double over the reigning European Champions last season, although Los Blancos did have the last laugh by beating Barcelona in the Spanish Cup final.
On that day however the difference maker was none other than Di Maria. The Argentine who gave Real Madrid their tempo is now no longer present and the midfield pairing of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will have to get through a lot of work to make up for such a loss.
It may well turn out a benefit to Madrid. Kroos’ ability to retain possession for long periods and slow the game down could frustrate Barcelona and allow Madrid to be effective on the break. This isn’t what we have become used to in the times of Ronaldo and Bale but in a league of fine margins, the result trumps all.
The match itself will carry the usual spice and flair we have come to expect despite the teams being rather different to those that contested the wars of 2009-2012. Yet with all the combustible elements on show, on either side, who knows what we may seen.
Who do you think will emerge victorious from the first Clásico of the season?
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