Ask any football fan about major football rivalries around the world, and the odds are you will find El Clasico right at the top. The battle of the Spanish heavyweights, Real Madrid, and FC Barcelona have all the makings of a proper showdown - be it the political history between the two sides or the talent that both teams have in their ranks.
This season is no different. With league leaders Atletico Madrid looking shaky come the business end of the season, both Barcelona and Real have been hot in pursuit. El Clasico comes at a crucial time for both sides with the result surely having a major impact on who will go on to lift the La Liga crown come the end of the season.
Real Madrid head into Saturday's Clasico fresh from a great performance against Liverpool in their Champions League quarter-final first leg tie. Barcelona, on the other hand, have enjoyed a renaissance of sorts under Ronald Koeman after his recent change of system, and this clasico has all the makings of a clash between two teams very much in good form
Here are the aspects which could determine the outcome of proceedings in Madrid on Saturday.
#1 Recent Results ahead of El Clasico showdown
Both teams are coming off a solid run of good results and performances. Real Madrid's latest loss came all the way back on January 30 against Levante and Barcelona last tasted defeat on February 16 when they fell to PSG.
#2 Recovery and Physical State prior to the El Clasico showdown
In this matter, there can be no debate. Real Madrid, burdened by injury as it is and coming fresh out of their crucial Champions League tie against Liverpool, will surely be short of recovery time as compared to their rivals, who will be much better rested.
Whether this match being played in such close proximity to their midweek tie brings out a performance filled with fatigue, or if Real can pull one out of the bag by playing with maximum intensity, only time will tell.
#3 Defensive players missing for both teams for El Clasico
Real will miss key players Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos to various injuries. Although Lucas Vazquez, Eder Militao and Nacho Fernandez have proved to be good replacements, this is one of the biggest games of the season and the new-look defense will have to be en garde against Messi and co.
Barcelona's most experienced defender, Gerard Pique, is likely to miss out.
#4 Midfield is where the battle of El Clasico will be won and lost
This is the area where the match is most likely to be won and lost. Both sides have top talent in the middle of the park, with Real's 3-time Champions League winning tridents Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro looking imperious and back to their best once again.
However, Barcelona, with Sergio Busquets, Frenkie De Jong and Pedri boast plenty of creativity and industry themselves, and on their day they can go toe to toe with any midfield in the world.
#5 Forwards have been misfiring all season
Dembele, Messi and Griezmann have generally been much more reliable in terms of goals and assist contributions this season compared to Real's trio of Benzema, Vinicius Jr. and Asensio.
El Clasico Roundup
Going into this El Clasico, there is once again a familiar feel of uncertainty and excitement for fans of both sides. Both sides are playing arguably the best and most consistent football they've played all season, and this showdown in Madrid has all the makings of a traditional brawl between two of La Liga's best and most decorated. With the league title on the line, there is an added layer of drama to proceedings, and it will surely be interesting to watch who rises to the occasion when it really matters.
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