Valverde without Neymar, Zidane with the ‘BBC’

Valverde without Neymar, Zidane with the ‘BBC’

Another Clásico in store tonight. When LaLiga kicks off next weekend we will already have seen three clashes between Barcelona and Madrid. Time flies so quickly – not that I am complaining – I love watching Real Madrid and Barça face to face; I like seeing how their colours blend out on the pitch, the pre-match build-up and anticipation, and I also love the duels between Cristiano and Messi. Curiously, both of them have scored more goals away from home than at their own stadiums in these clashes. On this occasion, due to the time of year, there will be more tourists in the stands. How lucky to be on holiday in Barcelona and get to see Messi and Cristiano, in the flesh, in a Clásico!

Opportunity knocks for Deulofeu

One player who won’t be there this time is Neymar; he’ll be in Guingamp, Bittany, playing in front of an 18,000-strong crowd. But apart from him, all of the usual figures will be on the pitch. While Barça continue their search for his replacement, it will be interesting to see how Gerard Deulofeu fares – he’s a player with extraordinary potential but his vision of football and life is a little muddled. He could suddenly explode onto the scene or go down the route which Jesé has taken. This could be a good night for him if he has a good performance. Txingurri Valverde could opt to field a fourth midfielder - Sergi Roberto or Denis Suárez to flood the centre of the park with players. In football, just like chess, the safest route to victory is to dominate the middle part of the playing area.

Zidane's BBC quandary

Zidane will be doing the same with his ‘BBC’. Since the 23 April meeting, when Bale hobbled off the pitch injured, the three have not played together. Tonight all of themare fully fit. Will they start though? Modric is out suspended but Zizou has Kovacic who has been in excellent form. Will Zidane dare to leave Bale or Benzema on the bench? Or Cristiano? After all, he has only recently returned to training. If he decides to field all three, will he be able to coax them to help out in defence? We shall see. It’s a new season and the same dilemma persists, one which is only resolved when one of the three isn’t playing. And funnily enough that seems to be when Madrid play better.