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El Clasico: FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid CF: Match Preview

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A look ahead to the first Clasico of the season

Valencia CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

The day of reckoning has arrived; the first El Clasico of the season is upon us as FC Barcelona play host to their eternal rivals, Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Saturday afternoon. The Blaugrana enter the match in the midst of what some might label “a crisis”, as they sit six points adrift of the league leaders and having drawn three of their last four across all competitions. Los Blancos on the other hand are in a rich vein of form; not only are they unbeaten this season, but they are unbeaten in a club record 32 matches.

The times, they are a-changing – or at least that is the general consensus. At the extreme end of the spectrum we are also fortunate to hear the prophecies from the harbingers of doom; not only are FC Barcelona in decline but they are in a battle to remain relevant. I think most would agree that this is going a step too far, but certainly it cannot be argued that Barça’s recent slide has elicited an emotive response from all corners of the footballing world.

And it is now, in these divisive times, that I have recently found myself taking a step back and thinking: just what does it mean to me to be a Culé.

Being a Culé to me has never been about winning or losing. Being a Culé has been about a sense of belonging, a sense of identity; it’s a way of life – my way of life. FC Barcelona have served as a figurative and literal escape from the realities of life; throughout my formative years, it was about a team of superheroes; footballing deities who could do no wrong.

Now, as I’ve grown older the reality has of course sunk in that I am no longer watching a team of superheroes; but the truth is, this current group and the current situation resonates with me just as much. In some ways, this season has proven that to an extent, they are just like us – capable of great things, but also liable to the odd stumble. Nobody’s perfect all the time and that, to me, has never been what being a Culé is about.

Being a Culé is about never giving up; never losing faith and trusting in the system. So, when Real Madrid visit tomorrow afternoon with their six point La Liga lead, and their 32 match unbeaten streak, I think I will finally have my answer.

Just what does it mean to me to be a Culé?

Win, lose or draw, it means the world.

TEAM NEWS

For in-depth team news, including squad lists, suspensions and injuries, be sure to check our Clasico storystream.

FORM GUIDE

Barcelona: LWDWDD

Real Madrid: DWWWWW

LAST MEETING

FC Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid – 2nd April 2016 – La Liga

Despite taking the lead in the second-half courtesy of Gerard Pique, the Blaugrana slumped to a home defeat to breathe new life into the title race as Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo completed a memorable remuntada for the visitors.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Barcelona (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Kovacic, Casemiro, Modric; Ronaldo, Benzema, Isco

MATCH PREDICTION

Cometh the hour, cometh the team. Iniesta, Messi, Neymar; 3-2 Barcelona.