Real Madrid vs. Barcelona Combined XI for Matchday 30

Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois
Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid defeated FC Barcelona 3-1 earlier this season at the Camp Nou, and they took down their rivals 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu last season in a match that would later help lift them to a 34th La Liga title.

The stakes are just as high this Saturday night at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. Barcelona are second in the league, while Real are behind them in third. But with Atletico Madrid struggling and now Luis Suarez out injured, both clubs surely see their opening.

Which team has the stronger XI on paper? Let’s systematically go position by position and pick a 4-3-3 formation based on players who will be available from both teams, using MARCA’s expected lineups to guide us.

Real Madrid GK Thibaut Courtois

Marc-Andre ter Stegen is an excellent goalkeeper, but Thibaut Courtois has to get the nod here. He was the best in La Liga last season and has been right there with Atleti’s Jan Oblak and Sevilla’s breakout star Bono as one of the top three goalkeepers in the league this season in save percentage. But honestly, it’s getting close, since ter Stegen just barely has the lead on Courtois in clean sheet percentage and goals allowed per 90.

Courtois gets the nod on the strength of what he did last season, and he’s had some big saves this year without any major mistakes in a Real Madrid kit. But this is one of a few tight battles in the XI.

Barcelona LB Jordi Alba

I have a lot of love for Ferland Mendy, who is a better defensive player than Jordi Alba and is coming off a strong performance in the Champions League triumph over Liverpool. That said, Alba’s having such a good season for La Blaugrana, particularly offensively, that I can’t leave him off the list.

Alba was very poor in 2019-2020, but he’s proven Spanish football fans that he is still one of the top left backs around. He’s been healthier this season and has shown flashes of his best in the Barcelona attack.

Real Madrid CB Nacho Fernandez

We can only use players who could be available for El Clasico, so Real Madrid won’t have either Sergio Ramos or Raphael Varane on this list. Otherwise, they would have dominated the XI at center back yet again.

That said, Nacho has been brilliant in 2020-2021 whenever Ramos is out with an injury. He has been one of La Liga’s best center backs in his own right and one of the stories of the season for Madridistas to root for. Nacho has been composed defensively, shown great leadership qualities, and has even helped the attack on occasion.

Barcelona CB Clement Lenglet

This is a very tough position to pick, but that’s only because of the injuries. Gerard Pique probably won’t be available for El Clasico, while Real Madrid’s elite duo of Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos is 100 percent out. Ramos and Varane would have been the clear choices if available.

Eder Militao might actually be a better player than the mistake-prone Clement Lenglet, but I’m honestly not willing to make such a claim just yet. So Lenglet gets the spot, almost by default. He’s had an underwhelming season.

Real Madrid RB Lucas Vazquez

I originally had Dani Carvajal listed here, but it seems as if he’s going to miss yet another game. So instead of it being an obvious choice for Real Madrid, this is yet another case where Los Blancos barely squeeze a win.

Much like the case of Lenglet over Militao, I’m going with the more experienced player. Sergino Dest was great in the first Clasico against Vinicius Junior, and he’s had some impressive games recently. Vazquez is not a true right back and prone to mistakes. But Vazquez’s offensive production has been better with four assists to Dest’s one. And Vazquez is averaging nearly two key passes per game. That, and his big-game experience, gives him the edge over the highly talented American.