Real Madrid round-up: tactics, pre-game plans, Courtois and Modric
All of the news ahead of the Clásico with a focus on tactics, selection headaches and whether Courtois is cursed against Barcelona or not.
The clásico is almost upon us and attention is heating up ahead of the biggest game in world football. Ernesto Valverde's side have failed to convince in LaLiga this season and failed to register a win in their four games before last weekend's victory over Sevilla. Real Madrid, on the other hand, are mired in their own crisis with no win in four in the league and three losses.
Much of the focus is on team tactics with Real Madrid's injury crisis coming to an end as Marcelo and Isco look set to be included in the squad along with Vinicius' potential inclusion after his suspension was overturned for his red card while playing with Real Madrid Castilla. Messi is missing for Barcelona and they have their own selection issues to contend with.
And with that, here is your pre-Clásico Real Madrid round-up:
Lopetegui played a 4-4-2 against Roma, which was Real Madrid's best performance of the season. They won 3-0, dominated possession and had 26 attempts on target. He looks set to play a similar system on Sunday but they still have to train on Saturday with, potentially, more clues to emerge as to what he is thinking.
Training plans for Real Madrid and Barcelona
Barcelona trained at 11:00 on Saturday morning and Ernesto Valverde spoke to the press afterwards.
Lopetegui has changed the normal plan and will train after he speaks at 15:45 CET. Their training will start at 16:30 according to the plan although that tends to change depending on events.
Sunday will be the Belgian's 13th game against Barcelona and he has only ever won one game. He has played against Barcelona more than any other side and no team has put a greater number of goals past him at 1.7 per game over his career.
Arthur has been getting a lot of praise in Barcelona for his flawless performance against Inter Milan and his general play since arriving in the summer at the Camp Nou.
It could turn into a battle of midfielders on Sunday with no Messi, Ronaldo and a general lack of goals for Real Madrid and with the potential for Rafinha, a more conservative option than Dembélé, Modric has a chance to shine on the biggest stage in club football. He hasn't been as good as he was at the World Cup since coming back from international duty but he tends to thrive on the big stage. If he can put in a virtuoso performance on Sunday, he could sneak back ahead of Griezmann for the award.