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Importance of Pedri for Barcelona in El Clasico can’t be understated

Vital to potential victory

FC Barcelona v RC Celta - LaLiga Santander Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

Barcelona supporters everywhere will have been delighted by the pictures of Pedri back in training just under a week before a potential title-deciding Clasico fixture.

The knowledge that a win will put the Catalans 12 points ahead of their nearest pursuers with 12 games to play has to be the driver for Xavi and the team to go all-out for the three points on Sunday.

Intriguingly, Barca haven’t got the better of Los Blancos at the Camp Nou in La Liga since the 5-1 in October 2018 when Luis Suarez bagged a hat-trick.

Furthermore, the only Barca win in the league in the last seven Spanish top-flight fixtures against Real was the 0-4 at the Bernabeu.

Since then, culers have seen one draw and two losses to the eternal enemy in Barcelona, a narrative which needs to be reversed this weekend.

Were Real to emerge victorious again, it doesn’t necessarily wipe out Barca’s title chances, it just hands their visitors a little impetus that won’t be there if they’re sent packing back to the Spanish capital with their tails between their legs.

Real Madrid v FC Barcelona - Super Copa de España Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti’s side have an important, and one would suspect intense, Champions League tie to negotiate this week, whereas Xavi can, theoretically, ease his side into the game, training ground intensity notwithstanding.

Regardless, let’s be clear that, despite the team looking a little haphazard of late, and benefiting from refereeing/VAR decisions, they have dug in when needed and ground out results. Championship form if you will.

Against Real they will need something extra, however, and that will arrive in the form of Pedri.

My, my how Barca have missed his creativity, his guile and ability to dictate matches.

Despite his tender age, his reading of games and the way in which he’s able to pick the moment to either slow down or ramp up the pace of Barca’s attacks is unique.

Fortunately for Xavi the team have still be able to get results without the No.8 in situ, but they’ve not controlled recent matches in the middle of the park.

Girona v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

That’s where Sunday’s game will be won and lost, and that’s why it’s vital that Pedri participates. Barca have to put down a marker. A statement victory.

We can be relatively assured that Ronald Araujo will lock up Vinicius once more, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen marshalling a record-breaking defence with aplomb.

If Real want the win, they’re going to have to work extra hard to achieve it, so the drive and push from their midfielders is vital to unlocking Barca’s backline.

Pushing Gavi forward again will allow Pedri to dictate alongside Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong.

Taking the sting out of the game early in either half, when Los Blancos like to come on strong is essential.

A midfield sans Pedri is likely to be more porous than one with him in situ, and the last thing the hosts need is a Real side in full flow.

Expect a season-defining performance with a man-of-the-match showing from the 20-year-old from Bajamar.

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