El Clasico: How Real Madrid could line up against Barcelona
Going into the much-anticipated El Clasico, all the pressure is on Real Madrid. Los Blancos are 11 points behind table-toppers Barcelona and will try to cut down their lead to 8 points if they are to prolong the inevitable.
On the other hand, Barcelona will be determined to continue their unbeaten streak in La Liga and replicate last season's result at the Bernabeu. The last time a Clasico was held on Christmas Eve, Real ran out 1-0 winners at Camp Nou thanks to a Julio Baptista goal exactly a decade ago.
Likely Real Madrid line-up
Probable formation: 4-4-2
Like the previous match against Gremio in the FIFA Club World Cup, Keylor Navas will keep the goal for Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. Dani Carvajal and Marcelo are expected to play in respective wing-back positions. Raphael Varane will be playing alongside Sergio Ramos in the heart of the defence.
Casemiro is expected to play the pivot role in the midfield assuming the defensive midfield position.Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are likely to combine in the central-midfield region. Isco could be given the nod to play in the attacking midfield.
Cristiano Ronaldo had complained of "a little discomfort" following the FIFA Club World Cup finals but the Portuguese international has insisted that he will be fine for Saturday's El-Clasico. Karim Benzema could partner Ronaldo up front.
Probable XI: Keylor Navas(GK); Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Isco; Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema.
Player(s) who will be returning from injury for Real Madrid
Gareth Bale will be returning from a calf injury. It will be interesting to see if Zidane starts with the Welshman or gives him a cameo appearance.
Real Madrid Form Guide: D-W-W-W-W
Final Verdict: It will be intriguing to see who will win the showpiece game. If Barcelona win the match, then there is pretty much no way back for the holders. If Real Madrid win, the slightest hopes of retaining the trophy will be alive.
Valverde has quite a few injuries to deal with, So Madrid should start as slight favourites despite Barca's unbeaten run.