Barcelona v Real Madrid: El Clasico prediction, preview, team news and more
As Barcelona host Real Madrid in the first El Clasico of the season, the stakes could not be any higher, as both teams are tied on 35 points and are currently sharing top spot heading into the fixture. The two Spanish giants are also coming on the back of league stalemates, as Barcelona were held to a 2-2 draw by Real Sociedad and Real Madrid played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Valencia in their previous league encounter.
The standout fixture of the LaLiga season, after being postponed for security reasons, is finally set to kick off 52 days after the initial schedule, as two great rivals prepare to take on each other in the pursuit of domestic glory.
Barcelona v Real Madrid Head-to-head
As we approach the last El Clasico of the decade, Barcelona could get another one over their arch-rivals and gain the ascendency in the title race yet again, as they look to add to their tally of 7 league titles since 2010. In recent years, the fixture has been one-sided on numerous occasions, but as we approach the halfway mark this season, the game is evenly poised as things stand.
Barcelona form guide: WWWWWD
Real Madrid form guide: WDWWWD
Barcelona v Real Madrid Team News
The Blaugrana have no fresh injury concerns but the likes of Arthur and Ousmane Dembele are ruled out, as they continue to struggle with long-standing injury problems. Dembele, in particular, as has been hampered by injuries this season and frustration continues to grow concerning Arthur, who faced a setback in his return from injury recently.
The trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann have been in sublime form in recent weeks and look set to lead the line once again for the reigning LaLiga champions, as they look to overpower Zinedine Zidane's side at home.
Jordi Alba is expected to start once again after returning from a short injury absence and Nelson Semedo could be restored to his preferred right-back spot. Ivan Rakitic's recent renaissance could see him partner Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong in the centre of the park, as Barcelona prepare to control the game in midfield.
Injuries: Ousmane Dembele, Arthur
Eden Hazard is a crucial absentee for Los Blancos, as the Belgian superstar picked up an ankle injury against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last month. In his absence, Gareth Bale is eyeing a start and the Welshman could partner Rodrygo Goes and Karim Benzema upfront, with Vinicius Jr also another useful option for the 13-time Champions League winners.
Federico Valverde has been a star turn this season and the Uruguayan midfielder is expected to start alongside Toni Kroos and Casemiro in midfield. Ferland Mendy has passed a late fitness test and the Frenchman could replace Nacho at left-back.
Injuries: Eden Hazard, James Rodriguez, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vasquez and Marcelo
Barcelona v Real Madrid Predicted XI
Barcelona Predicted XI: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Frenkie de Jong, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann
Real Madrid Predicted XI: Thibaut Courtois, Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Ferland Mendy, Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Fede Valverde, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Rodrygo
Barcelona v Real Madrid Prediction
Although the fixture is evenly poised, Lionel Messi has shaken off his injury woes and returned to his brilliant best this season and the Argentinian could well decide the tie, like he's done so numerous times in the past. With 26 El Clasico goals to his name over the years, the 6-time Ballon d'Or winner is the joint-top scorer in LaLiga this season, level with Benzema on 12 league goals and it remains to be seen who comes out on top.
Verdict - Barcelona 2-1 Real MadridPublished 18 Dec 2019, 13:45 IST