Real Madrid v Barcelona
The biggest game of the season……blah blah blah. But the fact is that it is. If you don’t want to watch this game then you are following the wrong sport.
Real Madrid made progress last season but only enough to win the Copa del Rey. The Champions League and La Liga both went Barcelona’s way.
Standard operating procedure for Real Madrid in that circumstance would be to wave the cheque book. They did sign players but it seemed to be in a more focused and targeted manner than we normally see.
Fábio Coentrão offers cover and options in a number of positions, the price of Nuri Şahin from Borussia Dortmund was just too good to pass on, while Raphael Varane from Lille was one for the future.
Barcelona made even fewer signings although they were of a higher profile – Fabregas from Arsenal and Alexis Sanchez from Udinese.
Real Madrid have set the pace so far this season so much so that a win on Saturday could open up a potential nine-point gap.
Barcelona trail Real by three points and have played a game more on account of the FIFA Club World Cup coming up.
Real Madrid have won 10 consecutive league matches and have not dropped points in over two and a half months. In 14 games they have scored 49 goals
Ronaldo has plundered 17 Liga goals (same as Messi) but the contribution from Angel Di Maria should not be overlooked.
He has had 10 assists (depending on the source used) in his last seven league appearances and has also scored 3 times.
The conventional wisdom has Mesut Özil starting on the bench with Higuain or Benzema starting between Ronaldo and Di Maria with a midfield of Diarra, Alonso and Khedira.
We can only wait and see how true the speculation is.
Barcelona’s Gerard Piqué missed last week’s 5-0 win over Levante on account of suspension but his relatively poor form does not mean he is an automatic starter for this match as in past seasons.
Barcelona have only conceded seven goals this season but the bad news is that they have all been away from home.
Barcelona’s away record is poor with 2 wins, 3 draws and a loss, they have scored 8 and conceded 7.
Fabregas has been the most prolific scorer on the road and he has scored 3 times. Messi has only scored once away from the Nou Camp as opposed to 16 in the confines of home.
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