As the build up to arguably the biggest game in club football begins to bubble, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has come over all bullish by announcing he already knows which players will be selected to face Barcelona in El Clasico.
“I know which line-up I will use against Barcelona,” said the Italian. “It’s not difficult and I won’t complicate things.”
If Ancelotti’s 6/5 favourites win the match, they will take a giant leap towards prising the Spanish title back off Barcelona as they’ll extend the gap over their third-place rivals to seven points.
But just what is the team the Italian has in his mind? Below is our version of the Los Blancos XI we think best-equipped to see off Barca at the Bernabeu. Do you agree?
Diego Lopez has sewn up ownership of the number one jersey in La Liga all season, so who would we be to swipe the gloves off the Spaniard now.
In front of the 32-year-old shot stopper, we’ve plumped for the most experienced and most used central defensive partnership of Pepe and Sergio Ramos.
Alvaro Arbeloa’s injury helps make the decision to install Daniel Carvajal at right-back that much easier, though the younger man and more attacking full-back would have gotten our vote anyhow.
On the left, Marcelo is preferred to Fabio Coentrao, having patrolled the left flank with aplomb ahead of the one-time Manchester United target all season.
No need for Pepe to be promoted to midfield again either as former Premier League pairing Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric operate alongside Angel Di Maria.
This means there is still no place for rising star Isco, whose time in a Madrid shirt will come soon enough, but not for this match.
Then up front, who else but the affectionately-known ‘BBC’ triumvirate of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo with just the 50 La Liga goals between them to date.
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