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Christensen, Yamal start in a 4-3-3 – How Barcelona could line up against Real Madrid

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Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images

In under 12 hours, Barcelona will lock horns with arch-rivals Real Madrid in what is very much a must-win encounter for them to stay alive in the La Liga title race.

Barcelona are eight points behind Real Madrid, who sit atop the league table, and a win would help cut that gap to five, allowing them to mount a late title charge.

Conversely, a loss tonight at the Santiago Bernabeu would see them drop 11 points behind Carlo Ancelotti’s men, all but ending any hopes of retaining the league crown.

Xavi Hernandez has a nearly full-strength squad at his disposal for today, with Gavi and Alejandro Balde being the only two absentees for the contest.

Having fielded his best possible starting XI in the game against PSG earlier in the week, the Barcelona manager is unlikely to make many tweaks for tonight’s El Clasico.

Here’s how Barcelona could set up tonight at the Santiago Bernabeu against Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Starters

Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a guaranteed starter in goal for Barcelona against Real Madrid and will be chasing a personal record for most minutes without conceding a goal in La Liga today.

Ronald Araujo will start at the heart of the Barça defence, looking to redeem himself after his red card against PSG cost the team in a huge way. The Uruguayan will be paired up with Pau Cubarsi, who will make his El Clasico debut.

The full-back slots will remain unchanged as well, with Joao Cancelo slotting in at left-back and Jules Kounde on the right, with the Frenchman looking forward to the challenge of facing Vinicius Jr.

The midfield department is where things get interesting as Xavi will have Andreas Christensen and Sergi Roberto back available after they missed the PSG clash through suspension.

Pedri likely to drop out of the starting XI. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

With Pedri, Ilkay Gundogan, Frenkie de Jong, and Fermin Lopez also available, the manager has to choose three players to start from the aforementioned six.

Given how well Christensen has done as a pivot midfielder in recent months, his inclusion appears very likely. Meanwhile, Gundogan is also a permanent fixture in the middle of the park for Barcelona.

The final slot is likely to fall to De Jong, with Xavi unlikely to risk Pedri considering his injury record and the fact that he returned to action only around ten days ago or so.

The attacking department is unlikely to see any changes with Lamine Yamal retaining his spot on the right flank after having been sacrificed against PSG following Araujo’s red card.

The hard-working and in-form Raphinha ought to occupy the left wing ahead of Ferran Torres and Joao Felix once again, while Robert Lewandowski will continue operating as the centre-forward.

Substitutes

Pedri is certain to come on at some point in the second half, especially if things are not going Barcelona’s way at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sergi Roberto is also a candidate to get some minutes off the bench given his good form in recent weeks.

Joao Felix and Ferran Torres would be options for Xavi to add more attacking firepower if Barcelona are chasing the game while Inigo Martinez could be called upon if the Catalans are looking to shut up shop.

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