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EL CLÁSICO

What is Real Madrid’s possible starting XI for today’s Clásico against Barcelona?

Real Madrid face arch rivals Barcelona in El Clásico on Saturday, on matchday 11 of the 2023/24 LaLiga season.

Update:
Real Madrid face arch rivals Barcelona in El Clásico on Saturday, on matchday 11 of the 2023/24 LaLiga season.
Kiko HuescaEFE

Real Madrid head to Montjuïc in the knowledge that a victory over Barcelona would open up a four-point gap over their arch rivals - while defeat would see Xavi Hernández’s men overtake Los Blancos in LaLiga. Although it’s still early in the season, it’s very tight at the top and the indications are that it will be a knife-edge Spanish title race all the way to the wire; indeed, Madrid and Barça’s head-to-head record could well end up deciding the destination of the championship. Given all of the above, plus the glory that comes with winning El Clásico, Madrid will take to the field on Saturday with what is very nearly their first-choice line-up. All that’s missing is their two long-term injury absentees, Thibaut Courtois and Éder Militao.

Watch a live stream of El Clásico on fuboTV, which offers a free trial

Kepa certain to start

In goal, there are no doubts about who’s starting. Kepa Arrizabalaga is Carlo Ancelotti’s first choice ahead of Andriy Lunin and the academy player Diego Piñeiro, who will both be on the bench in Barcelona. Since joining Madrid on loan from Chelsea, Kepa has conceded just six times in eight league games and, as things stand, is shaping up as a candidate for the Premio Zamora, the award given to the keeper who lets in the fewest goals in LaLiga. That said, the Spain international has looked a little shaky when dealing with high balls.

Camavinga at left-back?

In defence, David Alaba has shaken off the hamstring injury that saw him miss three league games in September and October, and he was given a rest against Braga in midweek. The Austrian will start at the heart of defence, alongside fellow centre-back Antonio Rüdiger, while Dani Carvajal will play at right-back. At left-back, however, there is a major question mark. Will Ancelotti play Eduardo Camavinga, a man he clearly trusts in the role in the big games, despite the fact that he’s a midfielder; or will he opt for Ferland Mendy, an out-and-out left-back who has struggled to impress over the past year? Fran García is certain to be on the bench, as are Nacho Fernández and Lucas Vázquez.

Eduardo Camavinga (centre) may drop to left-back again.
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Eduardo Camavinga (centre) may drop to left-back again.Kiko HuescaEFE

Bellingham fit after Braga scare

In the engine room, Madrid are set to field their first-choice foursome: Aurélien Tchouaméni at anchorman, Fede Valverde and Toni Kroos just in front of the Frenchman, and Jude Bellingham in the most advanced midfield position. Bellingham came away from Tuesday’s Champions League win in Portugal carrying a slight groin niggle, but is fit to start and will be tasked with adding to his prolific goal haul: the Englishman has racked up 11 in 12 Madrid appearances in all competitions. On the bench, Luka Modric will wait his turn; bit by bit, the Croat is coming to terms with his new back-up role.

Rodrygo-Vini in attack

In the Madrid attack, Rodrygo Goes will partner his fellow Brazilian Vinícius Júnior. Rodrygo ended his scoring drought in Braga and now has two goals to his name this season. Vinícius, who has netted three times this term, is poised for another titanic clash with Barça defender Ronald Araújo, who tends to be pressed into service at right-back to attempt to shackle the winger. The outcome of this duel will go a long way to deciding the result of El Clásico. On the bench, Joselu Mato and Brahim Díaz will await their chance to influence the game in the second half. The former is available again after missing the Braga game with flu.

Real Madrid’s possible line-up for El Clásico:

Kepa; Carvajal, Rüdiger, Alaba, Camavinga/Mendy; Valverde, Tchouaméni, Kroos; Bellingham; Rodrygo and Vinicius.

Real Madrid substitutes:

Lunin, Piñeiro, Lucas Vázquez, Nacho, Mendy/Camavinga, Fran García, Modric, Joselu and Brahim.