After days and weeks of waiting, the stage is finally set for the first El Clasico of the season and there are already permutations on how the game will end.
For obvious reasons, many pundits are favourably disposed to Barcelona edging tonight’s tie. But beyond the surface, Real Madrid stand a realistic chance of shocking their fierce rivals even at Camp Nou.
Here are three reasons why Real Madrid may get the upper hand tonight
Benzema’s remarkable form
Real Madrid does not have Messi but in Benzema they have found an equally lethal finisher.
At the moment, both Messi and Benzema have 12 goals this season, and the Frenchman even has one more assist (6) than Messi. Should Benzema be at his best tonight, he may just be the man to wreak havoc against the Catalan giants.
It is worthy to note that Benzema proudly has the record of the fastest Clásico goal in history.
On 10 December 2011, the striker scored after just 21 seconds in a 3-1 defeat at the Bernabéu.
A big point to prove
Real Madrid have a lot to prove tonight as they have been on the back foot in recent meetings with Barcelona.
A year ago, Barca thumped Real Madrid 5-1 (without Messi) in their first match-up, which led to the sacking of Julen Lopetegui. The Catalans also eliminated Los Blancos from the Copa del Rey in the semifinals in February and beat them 1-0 in March.
With all these bashings lately, one would expect them coming out smoking tonight to prove a point
New Zidane’s tactics
The return of Casemiro and Ferland Mendy will help to reinforce Real Madrid defensively against Barcelona at Camp Nou.
Ferland Mendy will be handy at the left-back having missed the Valencia game due to a one-match suspension.
It is worthy to note that Zidane has become a defensive specialist lately.
This was evident particularly in three games: facing Chukweze against Villarreal, Navas against Sevilla and Portu against Real Sociedad.
While outrightly stopping Messi or Suarez will be tough, Zidane and his men can do a lot to frustrate this dangerous duo.