El Clasico is the game that stops the world for 90 minutes, the game that has millions of fans counting down until the whistle is blown, and the game with the best players on the field.
Here are two key tactics for this colossal battle.
1. Marking Karim Benzema
Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, Benzema has converted into a key man for Los Blancos. He is the player Zidane looks to when goals are needed and is the team’s top performer this season with a total of 12 goals and five assists. However it’s not just his threat in front of goal, but his tactical positioning throughout matches that is so important.
This season, the Frenchman has taken on a free-roaming role in Madrid’s frontline. Rather than positioning himself nearest to the opposing team’s goal, he drops back to midfield, combining with Modric and Co. before moving back up the pitch, somewhat acting like false 9.
A clear example of his role came against Valencia, when he floated from the left wing to the right and also dropped back to midfield.
He is not only a threat for scoring goals but also when it comes to creating chances. They call Benzema a 9 and a half and Barcelona must mark him until the final whistle is blown if they want to be victorious.
2. Controlling the midfield
Midfield is one of the major keys for every team, a strong and in-sync midfield brings control and tempo to the game and Real Madrid rely on their players in the center to produce the goods.
Players like Modric, Kroos and Casemiro are on the pitch to push the team forward and create chances, however, when their midfield does not operate correctly, Zidane’s men also can’t operate.
A clear example was their poor start to this season when they secured just 14 points out of the possible 21. However, now, Real Madrid head into this battle in strong form due to their midfielders returning to their best levels. The players in the center of the field must play well if the team wants to succeed.
Meanwhile, that is not always the case at Barcelona. A smart little link-up between Messi and Suarez or a speedy run down the flank by Jordi Alba could be enough to give the team the win.
Therefore, if the Blaugrana are able to stop Madrid’s midfield and capitalize on their chances, then we might witness a Catalan party at Camp Nou this Wednesday.