PETE JENSON: Madrid and Barcelona team line-ups and head-to-heads

PETE JENSON: Real Madrid and Barcelona come into the first Clasico of the season separated by just a point in LaLiga – so how could the teams line-up and what are the crucial head-to-heads that will decide the mouth-watering fixture?

  • Real Madrid travel to Barcelona in the first Clasico of the season on Saturday 
  • Catalan side have received several boosts on the injury front ahead of the game 
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’ 

With Barcelona’s lengthy list of injured players miraculously reduced to one yesterday when everyone bar Sergio Roberto returned to training. 

And with Real Madrid’s multitude of midfield options making it hard to second guess Carlo Ancelotti. 

Both teams come into the fixture off the back of narrow Champions League wins in midweek. Barcelona squeezed past a determined Shakhtar Donetsk side. 

While Madrid bested Braga, thanks to another winner from Jude Bellingham, in Portugal. It’s not easy to predict first XI’s for the Clasico.

But Pete Jenson has given it a go with a mark out of ten for each player and the point-tallies suggest an away win on Saturday in the Olympic Stadium but only just.

Jude Bellingham kept up his incredible goal scoring start to life with LaLiga giants Real Madrid

Barcelona manager Xavi has seen several of his stricken squad return to first team training

Catalan giants earn a hard-fought 2-1 win over Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday

Barcelona 4-3-3

Marc Andre Ter Stegen 8/10

Back in form just in time for the biggest game of the season. It’s true he’s already conceded more this season than in the entirety of the last league campaign but managed a clean sheet last week. Very experienced in this fixture.

Joao Cancelo 7

Has been great going forward since he arrived but there are question marks defensively and Vinicius will be a threat. Xavi’s big call is whether to play Araujo at right back instead. The problem with that plan is that Vinicius no longer plays as an out-and-out left winger.

Ronald Araujo 9

If fit, he’s the best defender in the fixture and the master of his, and Vinicius’, domain in recent fixtures between the two sides. Hamstring problem sidelined him for five weeks so Barcelona will hope his fitness holds.

Andreas Christensen 6

Has not reproduced the excellent form of last season so far and Real Madrid will provide a major test.

Alejandro Balde 7

Rested in midweek so we assume he plays although switching Cancelo to the left and playing Araujo on the right of the back four is an option. Best going forward so big question is: will he be able to do that?

Joao Cancelo  (pictured) has been great going forward since he arrived from Manchester City

La Masia graduate Gavi sat out Barca’s midweek Champions League win due to a suspension

Gavi 8

The human cannonball has kept Barcelona’s injury-hit midfield afloat this season. Usual flurry of cards have taken him to within one of a suspension – don’t be surprised if he gets it in this match. Is adding goals to his game.

Oriol Romeu 6

Made a very good start but then form fell off a cliff. Has missed the injured Frenkie de Jong alongside him. If it’s a fast paced game he could struggle.

Ilkay Gundogan 7

Has underwhelmed so far but perhaps with good reason. His role seems to change every week as Xavi struggles to fill his midfield berths. Big game player though.

Fermin Lopez 7

Debatable whether he starts but his midweek goal and assist certainly helped his cause. Mature beyond his 20-years and Xavi is a big fan. Will be his first Clasico but has showed no nerves to date in his first senior season.

Robert Lewandowski 8

It seems he’s prepared to have pain-killing injections to start the match. Impossible that he’s 100 per cent after not playing since the end of September. Still a major boost for Barcelona having him back.

Joao Felix 7

His big chance to shine and start really convincing Barcelona that he is worth signing permanently. Has been good going forward so far but his tendency to lose possession will be punished by Madrid.

Barca bench 7

If Lamine Yamal and Ferran Torres don’t start then they are both good options for Xavi if he needs goals. Raphina trained on Thursday and Friday and could have 20 strong minutes in him. And don’t rule out minutes for 17-year-old Marc Guiu either. Very little midfield cover however, unless Frenkie de Jong completes his miraculous comeback and plays.

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Former Manchester City skipper Ilkay Gundogan has underwhelmed so far this season 

Total 87

Carlo Ancelotti’s side come into the fixture leading the LaLiga table after 10 games played

Madrid earned a 2-1 victory over Portuguese side Braga in the Champions League on Tuesday

Real Madrid 4-4-2 in diamond

Kepa Arrizabalaga 6

He was at fault for Sevilla’s goal last week in the league and conceded at his near post in midweek in Europe. Hasn’t always inspired confidence but there have been some big saves in games too. Massive test.

Dani Carvajal 8

Back to his best driving forward from right back and imposing himself physically in defence. One of two form players in a defence that has been unconvincing so far.

Antonio Rudiger 8

The other in-form defender. Has really risen to the occasion with Madrid missing Edu Militao. Should dominate.

Alaba 7

He’s not Militao and that much has become clear since the Brazilian’s absence but Carlo Ancelotti trust him so he is expected to the get the nod ahead of Nacho. Already knows what it’s like to score in this fixture.

Ferland Mendy 6

Was rested in midweek so is expected to start. Ancelotti is a fan, supporters are more skeptical despite the fact he’s usually defensively solid.

Toni Kroos 8

In very good form again this season. His decision to quit international football really seems to be paying dividends with his longevity at club level. Will be the best passer on the pitch. So influential.

Aurelien Tchouameni 7

Is having a better second season than his first, powerfully holding things together in front of defence and getting forward to score his first goal for the club recently too.

Ancelotti has assured everyone that Jude Bellingham is ready for his first Clasico

Ominously for Barcelona, Vinicius Jr is arriving back to his best form just at the right time

Jude Bellingham 9

‘Bellingham burnt out before the Clasico’ read one headline in Barca supporting paper Sport this week. They will certainly be hoping that’s the case. But Ancelotti has assured everyone he is ready for his first Clasico. Player of the season so far in Spain by some margin, should have a big influence on the game.

Fede Valverde 7

His bursting runs from midfield could really hurt Xavi’s team. Provides goals so crucial in a team without a prolific number nine.

Rodrygo 6

Hadn’t scored since the opening day of the season, until midweek when his goal in Braga saw Madrid win. Good understanding with Vinicius but so far has really risen to the challenge of extra responsibility and minutes. That could change in this game.

Vinicius 9

Ominously for Barcelona, he is arriving back to his best form just at the right time. Will lead the visiting team’s electric counter-attacks although Araujo has been his kryptonite in past Clasicos.

Madrid bench 7

The likes of Nacho, Luka Modric and Joselu gives Ancelotti a solid option in each line of his team. There is more depth in terms of senior players than on Xavi’s bench. But maybe Madrid lack a speedy box-of-tricks winger who could shake things up late on.

Total 88


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