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Football Reporting


Real Madrid – Barcelona: possible starting line-ups for El Clásico

Zinedine Zidane and Ronald Koeman have named their respective squads for this evening’s Clásico in Valdebebas – looking at those squad lists, we can gauge some idea of who will take to the field in Valdebebas this evening.

Hazard left out

For Madrid, Zidane decided it wasn’t worth taking a chance on Eden Hazard, who was excluded from his squad – not that he would have played from the start. No changes in goal, Thibaut Courtois has played every league game since the season started, conceding 23 in 29 games.

Zidane is still without three members of his first choice back four: Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos and Raphaël Varane, which suggests that he will stick with the defence he fielded against Liverpool in the Champions League on Tuesday. Lucas Vázquez drops back to fill in at right-back with Nacho and Militão as his central defensive pairing. At left-back, Zizou may prefer to start with Férland Mendy who has more pace than Marcelo. Whoever is on that flank will have to deal with Messi. In the previous league game against Eibar, Zidane surprised by fielding three centre-backsNacho, Militão, Mendy with Lucas Vázquez and Marcelo operating as wing-backs but that would mean leaving Toni Kroos on the bench – he is unlikely to do that against Barcelona.

Madrid’s midfield three – Casemiro, Kroos and Modric were superb against Liverpool and should remain unchanged, with the Brazilian a little deeper in his destroyer role.

Likewise up-front it would be a surprise if there were any changes from the last game. Vinicius will give the team pace out wide on the left, Benzema playing through the middle and Asensio on the right

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FUTBOL 21/22

Koeman to make Piqué decision

Barcelona coach Koeman has taken 23 players to Madrid. He has doubts in a couple of positions but not in goal, where Ter Stegen is set to start. The keeper missed the first six league games of the season with a knee injury but otherwise has played every game; as for his figures, 18 goals conceded in 23 appearances.

Koeman will have to decide whether Gerard Piqué can play from the start and if he is prepared to take that risk with the centre-back. From what he said during the week, that looks unlikely. Also, there is the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Club next Saturday, and Piqué would hate to miss that.

Koeman switched to a system of three centre-backs just before Christmas it’s a formula which has worked well for him. If Piqué is on the bench, the coach will field Mingueza or Araujo, De Jong and Lenglet in front of Ter Stegen with Dest and Jordi Alba manning the wings. Araujo is only recently back from an ankle injury but came on as a second half sub in the last three games.

In the middle, Busquets in a holding position covering Pedri. B team player Ilaix Moriba has made the trip even though he may be needed for the reserves’ meeting with Ibiza on Sunday evening. He can give the team some fresh legs later in the game as can Riqui Puig; both will start on the bench.

And in attack, the classic trident: Messi, Griezmann and Dembélé. There is also Trincão but he is generally not a starter.

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Real Madrid predicted starting XI

Courtois; Lucas Vázquez, Nacho, Militão, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius.

Barcelona predicted starting XI

Ter Stegen; Lenglet, De Jong, Mingueza; Jordi Alba, Pedri, Busquets, Dest; Griezmann, Messi, Dembélé.

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