There’s a lot of fanfare around El Clasico and we all know it’s a spectacle. Ernesto Valverde will have vengeance on his mind after two heavy defeats at the hands of Los Blancos early in his career as Barça head coach.
The Barcelona coach has some scores to settle with Zinedine Zidane and there will be no better retribution than extending the club’s lead by another three points. With that being said, here are three things Ernie needs to do in the Clasico:
1. Start Paulinho
When the season started, I wouldn’t have guessed that I would be pitching for Paulinho to start the Clasico, of all games. The Brazilian has proved his haters wrong, and I am happy to admit I was one of them. Yes, his style is perhaps limited, but it is also effective and brings goals. And we all know that whoever scores more goals, wins.
2. Stick to a 4-4-2
We have played 4-4-2 all season, and sometimes, continuity has its advantages. The club has not had an opportunity to display its attacking prowess so far and it is in part due to the lack of some quality wingers. However, the team has played with wide midfielders for most of the season and switching things up when it matters would be foolish. Unless, of course, we have been practising the 4-3-3 in secret and planned a curveball all along—I doubt that’s the case.
3. Sergi Roberto must play
Barcelona needs to use its best players and push for a win. Madrid has been gaining momentum in the past couple of weeks and it is paramount to disrupt their flow. This means that Javier Mascherano’s fitness and availability will be crucial. Another player who deserves to start is Sergi Roberto. The midfielder has continued to flourish in a varied number of roles and has to play regardless of position. It will be interesting to see where Valverde uses him i.e in place of Ivan Rakitic or Nelson Semedo. But the point remains—Roberto must play.