As La Liga’s winter break looms, just one obstacle stands between Barcelona and a near perfect first half of the campaign. The Catalans currently sit top, 6 points clear of 2nd place and 11 clear of fierce rivals Real Madrid, but it’s a trip to the Santiago Bernabéu that’s next for them.
Real were in Abu Dhabi last week to retain their Club World Cup title, but must immediately refocus as they prepare for what could easily be termed the biggest game of their season, as anything other than a win could effectively rule them out of the title race before Christmas.
With so much at stake, it’s vital that Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde gets his team selection right, and this is the XI we expect him to go with:
|PLAYER||% MINS PLD||GLS||AST.|
|0||0||0 / 0|
|1||4||2 / 0|
|1||0||8 / 1|
|0||0||1 / 0|
|1||5||3 / 0|
|1||3||1 / 0|
|1||2||4 / 0|
|6||2||3 / 0|
|1||3||1 / 0|
|17||7||2 / 0|
|9||2||4 / 0|
|Totals||38||28||29 / 1|
|TOTAL LA LIGA EXPERIENCE|
Despite both being at the club since 2014, Thomas Vermaelen and Gerard Piqué have only started 5 La Liga matches together. An unfamiliar pair then for one of the biggest games of the season, but fans will be hoping that their 100% record in those 5 games is a good omen.
Paulinho’s signing in the summer was not greeting with much excitement by the Barcelona faithful, but he has been impressive so far this term. 6 goals from midfield is a very healthy return at this stage, and he would dearly love to add to that tally here.
Much has been said in recent weeks about Luis Suarez’s apparent dip in form, but alongside Lionel Messi he still forms part of one of the most feared attacks in world football. If Real’s defenders aren’t alert, these 2 will run riot once more.
Overall, it’s an incredibly talented Barcelona side, and one that is more than capable of going anywhere and getting a result. With odds of 16/1 available on the home win to new 888Sport customers, a big win for the punters could definitely be on here.
KickOff’s unique algorithm powers the ‘Predictions’ tab in our all-new Acca Smacker, and backs up the idea that this will be a tight game. We give Barcelona a 36% chance of success compared to Real Madrid’s 39%.
The ‘Form Stats’ tab gives Barcelona fans more reason for cheer. Using 18 key data points, 9 attacking and 9 defensive, from the past 10 games for each side, KickOff compares the two sides and finds that Barca come out on top in 10 of them to Real’s 5, giving a strong indication of which side is in the better form and where the points may go.