The first Clasico of the season is here. FC Barcelona are going back to the Santiago Bernabéu 216 days after Leo Messi led the charge in a 4-3 win over Real Madrid with a spectacular hat-trick. Seven months later, Barça are going back with Luis Enrique on the bench and a four point lead that could become seven if the Catalans win again today.
Luis Suárez at last
The Asturian has picked his eighteen, which includes Munir from Barça B as well as Luis Suárez, whose FIFA suspension is finally over. The FCB manager already made it clear at his pre-match press conference that the Uruguayan will feature in the game, although it is unclear whether he will get to start or whether he’ll be introduced later in the game. But there are no places for the injured Douglas and Adriano, and Luis Enrique has also left out Masip, Vermaelen, Montoya, Rafinha and Sandro.
Games between these two teams are always memorable affairs, but there are added attractions this evening, in addition to the much-awaited presence of Luis Suárez. Leo Messi only needs one goal to equal Zarra’s all-time Liga goalscoring, while two goals for the Argentinian would set a new record. And there is every possibility of that, for the Argentinian has scored 21 goals against Madrid, and 12 of those were scored at the Bernabeu.
Carlo Ancelotti is going into his fourth Clasico as Real Madrid manager. He has lost both Liga encounters played to date, but did win the Spanish Cup Final. This Saturday he’ll have to find a way to get by without the injured Gareth Bale, but Sergio Ramos has regained his fitness just in time for the showdown with Barcelona.