There is always a fierce rivalry between the two strongest teams in any given national league, and this is the case in the Spanish La Liga when Real Madrid and Barcelona play each other.
Though Real Madrid has started this season strongly ahead of their arch-rivals, there is still more than 20 games to play and Barcelona still has a chance to dislodge Madrid giants from the top spot after Christmas.
Real Madrid has a stronger squad in-depth but I do believe Barcelona has a stronger starting eleven and this makes the difference when the two sides meet.
Barcelona is technically superior to Madrid especially in defense and midfield. On several occasions Real defenders have failed to stop Messi and colleagues from scoring.
Madrid defenders Pepe, Sergio Ramos and others have got the physical ability to fight for the ball, very strong with aerial balls but cannot match the brilliance in terms of ball control, passing and possession from Barca players.
Madrid stars have failed to cope with the speedy ball passing skills in the last seven El Classicos ever since Jose Mourinho arrived at Bernabeu.
On the other hand, the partnership core of Eric Abidal, Charles Puyol, Gerald Pique and Dani Alves proves too difficult for Madrid forwards to break, thereby providing chance for Barcelona to bounce back with a positive result from the Spanish capital.
Alves knows how to stop Ronaldo, the Real danger man. He does not allow him to run into the penalty area with the ball and ultimately stops him from his long-range shots.
Abidal also proves too hard to beat on the left flank as well and this helps Barca neutralize threat from Real Madrid trickery wingers.
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdez is not that good as compared to Iker Casillas but the Barcelona keeper is offered optimum protection by his defenders.
Midfielders Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedhira are good holding midfielders but do lack dynamism and are not comparable to much experienced Xavi, Cesc Fabregas and Andre-Iniesta.
Barcelona has won midfield battles during El Classico to provide Messi with chance to attack and break Real Madrid defense on so many occasions.
Messi is usually the danger man for the Catalans. Barca’s recent record against Los Blancos has mainly been influenced by Messi’s fine form. This is another reason why Barcelona is tipped as favorites to win this weekend’s clash.
Real Madrid is certainly stronger than last season but Barcelona has improved as well. Barcelona’s acquisition of Alexis Sanchez is a massive addition to the Catalans attack. The Chilean is an excellent player with pace and good dribbling skills.
Iniesta’s creativity is certainly a difference when the two giants meet. No Real Midfield player is comparable to the Spanish international when it comes to the final pass delivery.
He has a sharp eye with high attacking pedigree. He is the type of a midfielder who can attack and defend.
Jose Mourinho will have to work hard to find a solution on how to stop the offensive game from the Catalans. In the previous El Classicos, the Special One has tested various tactics in the quest to stop Barcelona’s attacking style but with little success.