Barcelona host Real Madrid this weekend for one of the biggest derbies in global football.
Los Blancos have it all to do and if Barcelona secure the victory, they will move six points clear of Real Madrid, one of the main threats to their Spanish title.
Gerardo Martino is fortunate that he doesn’t have a long injury list to worry about, which means he can name largely his strongest side for the game.
Here’s the eleven he might go with.
GK – Victor Valdes
Despite the fact Valdes has insisted he’ll still leave the club at the end of the season, he’s being retained in goal. He’s one of the most experienced players that Barcelona have available and he’s used to the intensity of this fixture.
RB – Dani Alves
Alves is one of the best in the business when it comes to getting forward from a full back position. It will be interesting to see how he shapes up against Cristiano Ronaldo on that side of the pitch.
CB – Gerard Pique
The former Manchester United man is one of the best defenders Barcelona currently own. He’s always in the heart of the defence for the club’s big games and this fixture is no different.
CB – Javier Macherano
Mascherano is likely to join him despite the fact Martino has Marc Bartra available. Mascherano has been converted into a central defender at the Spanish club although some still suggest he’s better in a defensive midfield role.
LB – Adriano
Jordi Alba would normally take this position but with the Spaniard injured, Adriano should retain his place. He’s a decent player defensively but not as effective as Dani Alves when it comes to getting forward.
RM – Pedro
It would be harsh on Alexis Sanchez but Martino may just favour Pedro on the right for this game. He’s good down the sides and he’s proven he can be effective, cutting in to attack from central positions.
DM – Sergio Busquets
Busquets will play the role of the holding man in midfield and the player who protects the defence. He will push forward when he has the chance to do so but Barcelona need him to pick off Real Madrid’s fast paced counter attacks.
CM – Xavi
Xavi will sit in the middle of the team as normal, controlling the tempo of the play. He too can get forward when he has the opportunity to do so but the majority of the midfield play will flow through him.
AM – Andres Iniesta
Iniesta will be the most advanced of the midfielders, playing in behind Lionel Messi. Iniesta has great control in possession and a superb ability to pop up in different positions across the midfield and attack.
LM – Neymar
The Brazilian will play out on the left hand side but don’t expect him to stay there for the whole match. He’ll come into central positions to offer support to Messi and the other attacking players.
ST – Lionel Messi
Messi will be unleashed to simply do what he does best, which is cause chaos. He’ll play on the shoulder, he’ll drop into midfield and he’ll go wide. It’s impossible for Real Madrid to man mark him.
What’s your prediction for the game?
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