El Clásico Preview
The first Clasico of the season takes place on Wednesday night as Barcelona welcome Real Madrid to the Camp Nou Fifty-two days after the initially scheduled date.
The match was supposed to take place earlier in the season, but it was postponed following safety concerns in Catalonia due to political unrest.
After making shaky starts to the season, both teams seem to have found their groove in recent weeks, and the results are testament to their drastic improvement, after 16 games, only goal difference separates the two sides at the top of the La Liga table,
Barcelona saw their seven-match winning streak come to an end on a difficult trip to La Anoeta last Saturday as they drew 2-2 with Real Sociedad, and Real Madrid were unable to take advantage of that since they were held to a 1-1 draw by Valencia on Sunday after a 95th-minute Karim Benzema goal just to rescue that point and stay level with Barcelona, avoiding what would have been only their second league defeat of the season.
Barcelona, by contrast, have already been beaten three times in the league this season, although only one of those has come since September and they go into Wednesday's match having lost just one of their last 17 across all competitions.
Indeed, Valverde's side are yet to drop a single point at home in the league this season having their La Liga winning streak at the Camp Nou now stretches to 14 matches. Moreover, the team have not lost a home game in any competition since November 2018 - a 30-match streak which includes 26 wins.
Barcelona have failed only once to hit at least four goals in a home league game, with 30 of their 43 league goals this season coming at the Camp Nou. On the other side, Real Madrid they will try to extend an 11-match unbeaten run that was preserved by Karim Benzema’s late equaliser away to Valencia on Sunday.
Madrid showed a great improvement away from home, with Zidane's side having won four and drawn one of their last five outings on the road, having picked up only two victories in 11 before that.
A trip to the Camp Nou is an entirely different proposition than most of their away games, though, and their recent record in this fixture means that a draw would probably be regarded as a satisfactory result for the visitors
Wednesday's Clasico will be the last of a decade which has seen Madrid win just two La Liga titles compared to Barcelona's haul of seven.
Barcelona La Liga form: LWWWWD Barcelona form (all competitions): WWWWWD
Real Madrid La Liga form: DWWWWD Real Madrid form (all competitions): WDWWWD
Real Madrid will still be without Eden Hazard for this match, with the former Chelsea player forced to wait for his first Clasico game due to a foot injury.
Hazard is one of a number of absentees for the visitors, with Marcelo, James Rodriguez, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez also sidelined through injury for this match.
Zidane will have Ferland Mendy back available after suspension, though, with the full-back expected to replace Nacho in the side.
Casemiro will also come back into the team after being rested at the weekend, while Vinicius Junior and Gareth Bale are among the other players pushing for a start.
Benzema will lead the line having so far matched the goalscoring exploits of Lionel Messi this season, the pair sitting joint top of the La Liga charts with 12 goals for each.
For Barcelona, Messi will be hoping to add to his record tally of 26 Clasico goals, while Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann have also been amongst the goals lately and the star-studded trio should all start again.
Ousmane Dembele remains side-lined while Arthur continues to struggle with injury
Nelson Semedo is back available having returned from injury off the bench at the weekend, and his inclusion could be the only change from the draw with Sociedad if Jordi Alba is deemed ready to start two matches in quick succession following his own recent absence.
Barcelona possible starting lineup: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, De Jong; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann
Real Madrid possible starting lineup: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Valverde; Bale, Benzema, Isco
Head to Head
Real Madrid are currently enduring a six-match winless streak against their bitter rivals, stretching back to the Spanish Super Cup at the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign.
In the league alone Madrid have not beaten Barcelona since a 2-1 triumph at the Camp Nou in April 2016 - one of only four victories from the 19 La Liga Clasicos over the course of the decade, compared to 11 for Barca.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Suarez steal the show with a fine hat-trick in a 5-1 win for Barcelona, who ran riot despite being without Messi.
Total head-to-head La Liga matches played since 1993-94: 52
Barcelona wins: 26
Real Madrid wins: 13
There is plenty on the line in El Clasico as while neither have been at their best this season, they are still the top two in La Liga. Barcelona not only have home advantage on their side, but they have also enjoyed an additional day of rest to prepare which could swing it in their favour.