It's that time of year in Europe once again. Barcelona travel to bitter rivals Real Madrid on Saturday, October 25th in what will be the first of two La Liga matches between the giant rivals this season. Here are my keys to success and final prediction for the match:
First and foremost, this season's Clásico will feature new faces. The most famous being striker Luis Suarez, who signed with Barcelona over the summer. Suarez is coming off of a four month long ban from "all football related activities" by FIFA after biting Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. While nobody is certain, it's widely speculated that Luis Enrique will be starting the striker on Saturday. If he does not start, he certainly will be starting from the bench, in my opinion. Suarez will be a strong addition to the front line that will include an in-form Neymar and Lionel Messi. Messi has 250 goals in La Liga and is one goal away from tying the all-time record of 251 set by Telmo Zarra in 1955. Messi gave a few brief statements to the press regarding his next milestone and said: "We’re going there to do the best we possibly can and win. This match won’t decide anything and there’s a lot left in the season, but we’re going there to try and win and play well. What’s important is beating Real Madrid, not breaking Zarra’s record." Nonetheless, Messi will be in the starting 11 as many of us are looking for him to make La Liga history against Barcelona's eternal rivals. Starting Suarez would be crucial in the attack as well as keeping possession in the midfield between Iniesta, Xavi and Mascherano. If they can limit Madrid's possession and keep the ball away from an in-form Cristiano Ronaldo, I feel like they can get a result in the Spanish capital.
No official announcements have been made regarding the starting squad for El Clásico on Saturday, but here is the line-up that I would be starting if I had to choose: My XL: Suarez, Messi, Neymar (take a minute and read those out loud). Xavi, Iniesta, Mascherano, Bartra, Mathieu, Alba, Dani Alves and Bravo. Rakitic would be an available sub but Xavi wins the starting role in midfield due to experience in big matches like this one.
My prediction: It's going to be a close one, yet again. Too close to predict who will score for either side. I'm going with a cautious 2-1 victory prediction for the boys. El Clásico rarely disappoints and should be a treat for fans and foes around the world.
Visca el Barça