Variable starters for Real Madrid, Barcelona before El Clasico

Madrid, Nov 20 (IANS) The biggest domestic club game in the football world will be played on Saturday night when Real Madrid entertain FC Barcelona in a La Liga contest at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium here.

The build-up so far has focused on security concerns more than sporting questions in the wake of the Paris attacks, but with just over 24 hours until kick off, both coaches will now be looking to decide on their starting 11, reports Xinhua.

Both Real Madrid’s Rafael Benitez and Barcelona’s Luis Enrique have question marks hanging over key players ahead of the game. Benitez has forward Karim Benzema and defender Sergio Ramos available after recent injury scares. But with Frenchman Benzema only returning to full training on Thursday and the captain Ramos’ shoulder still looking problematical, the coach has to decide whether or not he can risk putting them in his starting 11.

Meanwhile in Barcelona there is one man who is the focus of all of the attention: Lionel Messi. The Argentinean superstar was back working with his teammates early this week after two months out with a knee injury and there is no way he will be left back home for such a vital game.

However, with Luis Suarez and Neymar both performing exceptionally well without him, coach Enrique knows he does not immediately need to risk Messi from the start and the coach has always said his aim is to ensure the Argentinean is fit for the rest of the campaign and not just one game.

Croatian international Ivan Rakitic should also be fit for Barcelona after his recent muscle problem, but once again Enrique may prefer to start with him on the subs’ bench.

That gives the Barcelona coach the problem of whether Javier Mascherano should start in defense or in midfield alongside Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta to cover for Rakitic.

If he moves into midfield either Marc Bartra or Jeremy Mathieu will partner Gerard Pique, who can be assured of a hostile reception, in the Barcelona defense alongside Dani Alves and Jordi Alba.

Benitez has been accused of being over-defensive in his tactics, but with his side kicking off three points behind Barcelona and the leadership at stake, this is the chance to prove his doubters wrong and play with Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and James Rodriguez together.

If however, his defensive instincts get the better of him and he decides to play on the break and Real Madrid fail to win, his time in charge of the club could be measured in days and weeks, rather than months and years.

Leave a Reply

Please enter your comment!

The opinions, views, and thoughts expressed by the readers and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of or any employee thereof. is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the readers. Responsibility for the content of comments belongs to the commenter alone.  

We request the readers to refrain from posting defamatory, inflammatory comments and not indulge in personal attacks. However, it is obligatory on the part of to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments to the concerned authorities upon their request.

Hence we request all our readers to help us to delete comments that do not follow these guidelines by informing us at Lets work together to keep the comments clean and worthful, thereby make a difference in the community.

Please enter your name here