REAL MADRID - BARCELONA
Real Madrid searching for goals and Barça want to wrap up LaLiga
Solari's side have scored 22 fewer goals than Barcelona and they have been kept scoreless in nine games this season while Barça could wrap up LaLiga with a win.
241 games later, Real Madrid and Barcelona are level. Both sides have tasted success 95 times in Clásico encounters with 51 draws. Barcelona have trailed for 87 years and have a chance on Saturday to go ahead of their rivals on their home turf.
Barcelona won just three days ago in the Copa with the same players, more or less, set to take to the field on Saturday. They are shooting more than Real Madrid with 15.5 shots per game in LaLiga compared to Real Madrid's 15.3 attempts. They have both scored the same number of goals in Europe (14) and Solari's men are far less efficient in front of goal in the domestic competition with 65 goals for Barcelona and 43 for Real Madrid.
Part of the reason why that number lags is because Real Madrid have been kept scoreless on nine occasions with five of those games coming under Solari. Real Madrid only failed to score in that many games one season during Ronaldo's nine at the club (Mourinho's first in 2010-11). They still have three more months of games to go and it looks like they will beat their record over the last decade. It points to a miscalculation in the summer and one that is being constantly pointed out by those club to the club.
Madrid need to remedy their lack of goals. And it's something Bale has. The goalscoring ability is something Diego Simeone calls a congenital natural gift. He has 13 goals this season and seven in the league. It seems likely that he plays on the right today with Vinicius earmarked for the left. Ze Ricardo, the Brazilian's coach at Flamengo, says of Vinicius, "he is very strong emotionally and he doesn't back down easily ad doesn't feel pressure with adversity regardless of his size."
The other question is Marcelo. According to the map of the game on Wednesday, Reguilón was more advanced than Carvajal and had a better game but the only reason he will make changes is if he has his eye on the Ajax game. Nacho is suspended and Varane will have to play through a fairyly heavy knock he took to the knee on Wednesday in the Copa.
Valverde's retouching of his side
Barcelona might also make some changes. Arthur could replace Sergi Roberto as the Brazilian comes back into contention. Umtiti might also replace Lenglet after the French defender missed a long spell due to injury. He reappeared against Sevilla after three months out but Valverde might not risk him if he feels he still has some rust he needs to shake off.
The signs do not point to either Vidal or Coutinho, two bullets to be kept in the chamber and used if necessary.
On Wednesday, he was given plenty of food for thought with what the data showed. Barcelona had plenty of possession but were 12% lower than their average. They won fewer duels than normal and also fouled Real Madrid players more too. Madrid shot more often but only a quarter of their shots were on target.
Messi remains decisive but has not been in Clásicos this season. He does have 122 in the league this season, which is exceptional. Bale and Benzema, for example, have only 124 between them. The Clásico on Saturday is made up for him and he knows he is due a big one.
Atlético are waiting patiently and a Real Madrid win would leave them just four points behind Barcelona with a game at the Camp Nou upcoming.