El Clasico: Who Should Start Alongside Lionel Messi In Attack?

David Ramos

Given that Real Madrid are suffering with a number of injuries, Barcelona have an excellent chance to effectively secure their place in the Copa del Rey final with a win tomorrow. With that in mind, who do you think should join Lionel Messi in the Blaugrana attack?

It's a given that Lionel Messi will start tomorrow's El Clasico between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, but aside from that, we know very little about the Blaugrana's plans heading into the match. As Luis outlined in his latest article, Real Madrid will be missing a whole host of key first team players; from Iker Casillas to Pepe and Sergio Ramos, not to mention Fabio Coentrao and Angel di Maria. In spite of all that, Jose Mourinho has staggeringly escaped criticism for discarding no less than eight members of his squad in the summer. Anyway, I digress; Los Blancos are going to be far from full-strength, and with that in mind, who do you think Barcelona should start in attack alongside Lionel Messi?

After a triumphant return on Sunday evening, one could argue that Barcelona's "MVP" trident should be reunited once again. David Villa has the ability to turn a game in an instant - remember that goal against Real Madrid in the Supercopa? - and while Andres Iniesta is a fantastic player, he doesn't quite pose the same threat in front of goal that El Guaje does. Combined with Pedro, who appears to be back to his best, MVP is arguably the best "attacking" triumvirate at our disposal; although are they still the best option for a Clasico?

In recent weeks, Andres Iniesta has moved in attack, which allows Barca to accommodate Cesc Fabregas into their midfield. Iniesta might not be as clinical as David Villa, but he is far more creative and dangerous with the ball at his feet. With sixteen assists to his name this far this season, Iniesta's passing ability could make the difference in the final third, especially against a weakened Real Madrid backline. Perhaps Iniesta should start in attack with Pedro making up the numbers on the right?

Maybe there's a case for Alexis Sanchez? The Chilean has been in terrible form this season, but he has a history of performing in this very fixture. In last season's final League Clasico for instance, Sanchez nearly salvaged a draw off the bench, and was far more effective than any other Blaugrana attacker in that match. His movement will cause any defense problems, and who knows, maybe you think that he's finally due a goal?

And what about Cristian Tello? Unfortunately, the Spaniard has not been able to establish himself since signing a new contract at the club, although he does offer a different dimension with his blistering pace and eye for goal. Cutting in from the left-hand side of attack, Tello would certainly cause Alvaro Arbeloa problems, and while he couldn't cope with the pressure in his last Clasico, Tello is now a few months older, and a few months wiser. A starting place may not be within his reach, but he could make an impact off the bench.

So, who do you think should start alongside Lionel Messi in attack tomorrow evening? Vote in our poll below, and comment with the reasoning behind your choice in the comment section below.

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