Barcelona: Welcome to the Santiago Bernabeu


The biggest football derby in world football takes place this weekend as Real Madrid play host to Barcelona in El Clasico.

Barcelona currently have a 6-point lead at the top of La Liga, ahead of Atletico Madrid. Further back are Real Madrid, some 11 points behind with only one game in hand.

Anything less than a victory and many would consider the title race to be over. The current odds on La Liga already suggest Barcelona are going to win the league this season whilst they will go even shorter with three points on Saturday.

Although Real Madrid were convincing 5-0 winners over Sevilla in their last league match, two weeks ago. Zinedine Zidane's side have been a shadow of the team they were last season when they won both the league and Champions League double.

Madrid have already suffered shock defeats to both Real Betis and Girona, whilst being held at home by Valencia and Levante.

This has allowed Ernesto Valverde's side to open up a big gap at the top and one that many don't see them throwing away should they avoid defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu. Many of the La Liga predictions I've read for this weekend's El Clasico are favouring Barcelona.

What's more, Barcelona have won on their last two visits to their rivals' stadium. Last season they came away 3-2 winners in April with Lionel Messi scoring a dramatic stoppage time winner.

On 21 November 2015 Barcelona thumped Real Madrid 4-0 on their home soil. Luis Suarez scored a brace at the day and did so this past weekend when the Catalan club ran out 4-0 winners over Deportivo La Coruna.

Whilst that was taking place, Real Madrid were all the way out in the United Arab Emirates playing two games to win the FIFA World Club Cup.

Barcelona do have more injuries heading into the match. The most serious of those being centre-back Samuel Umtiti who had been a regular starter this season prior to picking up an injury earlier this month.

The world's second most expensive player, Ousmane Dembele, has been sidelined since his first start towards the beginning of the season. The French forward is still a couple of months away from making his first team return.

Paco Alcacer picked up a groin injury last weekend though the Spanish striker has only made four starts this season. Valverde is likely to start with Paulinho behind Lionel Messi and Suarez at the Bernabeu.

Luka Modric is expected to have shaken off a knock whilst Gareth Bale is expected to be for Real Madrid who otherwise have no other injury concerns to deal with.



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