Whenever FC Barcelona and Real Madrid face off in ‘El Clasico’, there are so many angles in which we can look ahead and analyze this game, which will be played on Saturday at the Camp Nou. We could talk about the goalkeeping, we could talk about the midfield battle and or we could also talk about the attacking players on either team, but the key to this particular clasico game will be the play of each team’s defense.
While we think about the attacking talent of both teams, in order for either team to come out on top in this latest edition of their rivalry, they are going to need for their respective defenses and defending players to come through and while not shut down the other team’s attacking players, at the very least contain them. Both teams have a question mark or question marks with regards to one of their potential starters in defense while the play of their holding/defensive midfielder(s) will go along way in helping the defensive unit of each team do enough to win the game.
For FC Barcelona, the likely starting defensive alignment including the goalkeeper will likely be as follow, Victor Valdes will start in goal with Dani Alves and Adriano as the fullbacks with Gerard Pique being paired with either Javier Mascherano or Carles Puyol in the central with Sergio Busquets as the holding midfielder. This team is exposed in the back to teams who can counter quickly. This is something that Alves and Adriano will have to keep in mind against a Real Madrid team who are just as good as any team at quickly countering.
In addition to the Barcelona fullbacks having to take more precaution at times, the play of Busquets will also be key in helping the Barcelona team doing enough defensively to potentially beat Real Madrid on Saturday. Busquets is by far the best holding/defensive midfielder in the world right now given how well he is able to start an attack and how well he is able to break up an opposition’s attack. How Busquets is able to know when to press up high and or when to stay back and play like a third central defender will be key in Barcelona’s defensive game plan.
As far as Real Madrid is concerned, the likely starting defensive alignment will be Diego Lopez in goal with Alvaro Arbeloa and Marcelo as the fullbacks with Sergio Ramos and Pepe as the central defenders with Sami Khedira and with Asier Illarramendi as the holding/defensive midfielders. As far as the back four of the likely starters for Real Madrid, the central defending pairing of Ramos and Pepe are the strongest part of the Real Madrid defense.
As far as the weakest part of the Real Madrid defense, it is Alvaro Arbeloa who will have to deal with having to go against Neymar in the game. How Khedira and or Illarramendi are able to help Arbeloa when Neymar is on the ball will go a long way to determining if Real Madrid are able to leave with the three points from this game. While you are enjoying the game on Saturday and likely being dazzled by the attacking play, keep in mind that whoever has the best defensive performance between the two is likely to take all three points.