Barcelona will seal a potentially decisive advantage in the La Liga race if it bests Real Madrid at Camp Nou. The latter had recorded a 3-1 success over the Catalan side in October; it was a victory built on its renowned counterattacking approach.
Carlo Ancelotti would prefer to replicate the style that has brought him many rewards in the Spanish capital. However, Barcelona has evolved in recent months and its style of play is no longer defined by the midfield. A repeat of the previous Clasico that saw Madrid wreak havoc on the counter is unlikely.
The return of Jordi Alba and Dani Alves from suspension will boost Barcelona in offence too. But Sergio Busquets is a doubtful starter owing to injury. If he fails to recover, Javier Mascherano will play as a defensive midfielder.
Madrid will look to control the midfield better than it has done in recent weeks as Luka Modric returns to the starting eleven. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that his absence also brought a poor run of form for his side. Toni Kroos’s fatigued displays didn’t help the cause either.
Isco will take the third spot in the midfield as James Rodriguez and Sami Khedira are yet to fully recuperate from their injuries. It’ll be interesting to see whether Marcelo starts at left-back ahead of Fabio Coentrao. In the past, Ancelotti has chosen the latter for his defensive strengths. However, Marcelo is likely to get the nod on Sunday.
The front trio of both sides, barring any injury, is settled.
Barcelona (65) vs Real Madrid (64) ; STAR Sports 4 & HD4, 1.15 a.m. (Monday)
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