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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: ‘El Classico’ Preview

The world’s biggest club match is set for its first staging of the 2014-15season as Real Madrid host Barcelona at the Bernabeu on Saturday, with Los Blancos attempting to close the gap to their table-topping visitors.

Luis Enrique’s men currently sit on 22 points from eight games having conceded no goals all season, while free-scoring Madrid are four points back in third.

Luis Suarez is finally eligible to make his competitive bow for the Camp Nou giants after serving his World Cup biting ban in what provides a fascinating sub-plot.

Eight games into the new season and Barcelona are still yet to concede a goal. However, for Saturday’s El Clasico they come up against a side who have scored 30 times in the league and 35 in their last eight games in all competitions—all of which they have won.

Furthermore, Cristiano Ronaldo is in irresistible form having bagged a quite incredible 15 La Liga goals in seven appearances this season, per WhoScored.com.

Gareth Bale is set to miss out against Barcelona, per BBC Sport, but Spanish football writer Sergi Dominguez suggested the Welshman’s absence may in fact be advantageous for the hosts:

Indeed, with the likes of James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema set to appear alongside Ronaldo, Real certainly have the firepower to end Barca‘s clean-sheet streak and that trio will be key if Madrid are to record an important win.

For Barcelona’s part, possession will be key to shutting down their opponents’ devastating attack, while with an in-form Neymar and Lionel Messi, Enrique’s side also have the players to threaten an often vulnerable Madrid defence.

As Real skipper Iker Casillas pointed out, a Clasico is a separate creature to all other encounters, but the pressure is really on the hosts as a loss would see them drop seven points back from Barca very early in the term, per ESPN’s Dermot Corrigan:

With both teams in fine form it is set to be a blistering encounter and neutrals will be hoping for a similar occasion to last year’s BernabeuClasico, which saw Barca edge a seven-goal thriller 4-3.

Never a player long out of the limelight, it was almost inevitable that Suarez’s first game for Barcelona would be anything but low key.

As it turns out, the Uruguayan’s four-month ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup finishes just in time for him to make an appearance in the first Clasico of the season, club football’s biggest worldwide stage.

However, Suarez’s match fitness is likely lacking after so long out of competitive action and Enrique will probably play him from the bench.

That being said, the 27-year-old could still play a big role as the Madrid defence are hardly likely to be happy facing a fresh Luis Suarez an hour into such a massive game.

Neymar and Messi are both having fantastic seasons so far, and adding Suarez to that attacking mix is a mouth-watering prospect:

It would be no surprise to see Suarez come off the bench and score the winning goal, he has always been a player who thrives on the biggest occasions.

There are few bigger matches than a Clasico. With the wealth of talent set to be on show on Saturday quite stunning, calling a winner is an almost impossible task.

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