Sunday brings with it the first El Clasico of the season.
Here, we look at the key tactics Los Blancos may employ for this encounter.
Barcelona are likely to operate with a narrow front three, putting the onus on their full-backs to generate width. Madrid and particularly Gareth Bale could use that to their advantage.
The Welshman may look to attack the far post, one that could be left unmanned when Jordi Alba is caught out of position. In any case, he boasts a significant height advantage over the Spaniard and can rely on Karim Benzema’s clever movement to occupy Clement Lenglet on the left side of the central defensive pairing.
With Isco back in action, Bale can expect good in-swinging deliveries from his team-mate’s gifted right foot, in addition to the service provided by Toni Kroos and Marcelo.
CASEMIRO ON THE FRONT FOOT
In a fixture of this magnitude, Casemiro would be expected to play a withdrawn role and shield the back four. However, the Brazilian is at his best when he’s closing down the opposition and crunching into challenges.
Even now he’s had more tackles than any other Madrid player this season. Lionel Messi’s phenomenal dribbling ability makes it suicidal to allow him space in central areas anywhere near the final third but in his absence, Casemiro can afford to push up.
Barca’s real threat will be in trying to get in behind Madrid so the best use of the combative midfielder’s qualities could lie in cutting off the supply line by denying the likes of Arthur and Sergio Busquets from playing those key passes.
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