El Clasico is once again upon us, and what a mouth-watering clash this is set to be. What once looked like a meaningless tie to decide second place now could very well dictate where the 2020-21 La Liga title ends up.
There is the added spice that this could potentially be Lionel Messi's last ever Clasico. Although the Argentine maestro may have been encouraged by Barcelona's improvement under Ronald Koeman, his future is still up in the air.
Karim Benzema is in the form of his life under Zinedine Zidane, who has turned Real Madrid's season around with his familiar nonchalance. Los Blancos are still in the race for a La Liga and UEFA Champions League double, a far cry from when Zidane's job seemed to be under threat earlier this season.
There are plenty of narratives as El Clasico nears!
Here are five players who ought to impact this titanic clash the most:
#5 Ousmane Dembele is finding form ahead of El Clasico
Ousmane Dembele has scored twice in his last two league games for Barcelona, including a last-gasp winner against Real Valladolid. The Frenchman looked exhausted in the final moments after a hard-working performance full of excellent runs, yet scored when it counted.
The touch was composed, the finish sublime - Dembele is gradually working his way into form at the right time.
Ronald Koeman noted Dembele's physical improvement after the game, and having scored against Sevilla and Real Sociedad in Barcelona's last five games as well, it can be said that the Frenchman has an appetite for the big games.
They don't come much bigger than El Clasico, and given Dembele has three assists in 177 minutes against Los Blancos in a Blaugrana shirt, he could very well be decisive once more in this El Clasico.
#4 Karim Benzema is Madrid's top scorer
Real Madrid have scored 71 goals in all competitions this season, and Karim Benzema has been involved in 30 of them. To have arguably the biggest club of all time so dependent on one player seems incredulous, but Benzema is simply that special.
With 24 goals and six assists in competitions this season, Benzema has been involved in 42.25% of all goals scored by the club. He has been instrumental in transforming Los Blancos' season around, with crucial goals against Atletico Madrid and Atalanta in the UEFA Champions League.
Benzema's scoring streak of seven consecutive games came to an end against Liverpool, but the Frenchman still has nine goals from his last eight games. Benzema has not scored against Barcelona in his last nine games against them, and now would be the perfect time to end that drought.