New Delhi: Real Madrid will be eager to keep Barcelona at bay in La Liga 'El Clasico' on Saturday. With just three points separating the duo, a win for the visitors could see them take a further lead that could be difficult for Rafa Benitez's men to catch as the season progresses.
Real have 24 points from 11 games, three adrift from Barca. Atletico Madrid meanwhile, lie a point below Real and are on their tail waiting for their city rivals to slip up.
Last season saw Barca pip Real by just two points to win the league and it highlights how tight the gap is between the two sides. Though still early days, six points will open a big gap upfront and Benitez's season might be over before it has even finished in La Liga.
Once again midfield will be key for this season's first El Clasico and Madrid have a richer kitty than their arch-rivals. Benitez has the experienced Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and young Casemiro. The trio will hope to be intact and dictate proceedings in the centre of the field.
Both teams are expected to field a 4-3-3 formation and Benitez knows his side have to be a notch higher in defence and midfield to stop Barcelona from making inroads. An exciting battle is on cards as Benitez will hope his side doesn't repeat a performance like the one against Sevilla.
Real has the onus of not losing any of their last 22 home games in the league.
Neymar and Luis Suarez have formed an excellent bond together even in the absence of Lionel Messi. Barcelona have blew away teams in recent times and come from a 3-0 victory against Villarreal. Their attack will test Real's defence that has looked a vulnerable at times. Keylor Navas who has been a prime force in the goal for Real, will have to continue his stellar form to stop Luis Suarez and Neymar.
The El Clasico starts at 10:45 pm IST.