Spanish giants Barcelona take on their great rivals Real Madrid in El Clásico on Saturday. Ahead of the first Clásico of the season, Get Spanish Football News has taken a look at three key battles to watch out for.
1. Jude Bellingham vs Oriol Romeu
With eight goals and two assists in his first nine league games, Jude Bellingham has already justified his price tag. The Englishman has made an instant impact since his arrival, excelling in the number ten role just behind Rodrygo and Vinícius Jr. However, this weekend he will be followed closely by Oriol Romeu, who will look to press Bellingham and prevent him from running towards the Barcelona backline.
Although Romeu wasn’t one of Barcelona’s big-name signings, the defensive midfielder has an important role in the team. The Spaniard has been effective in screening the backline, but also assisting when playing out from the back. Despite this, Romeu will be up against the most in-form player in the league and will need to be wary of Bellingham’s late runs into the box. This will certainly be an interesting battle in the middle of the park, which could play a decisive role in the outcome of this El Clasico.
2. João Félix vs Antonio Rüdiger
While Robert Lewandowski will require a late fitness test, it is likely that João Félix will lead the line for the hosts and he will be up against Antonio Rüdiger. The German centre-back is physically superior to Félix and will therefore win the majority of aerial duels. However, Felix will be deployed in more of a false nine role where he will look to drop deep and draw Rüdiger out of position, leaving space for the wingers to exploit.
The 23-year-old has one goal and three assists to his name this season, with his playmaking ability arguably his best asset. Rüdiger has a great reading of the game and will look to intercept any line-breaking passes into the feet of Félix. He is also very quick for a defender and won’t be concerned about Félix running in behind. Although this is quite an unorthodox battle, it is one to keep an eye on as both players head into the contest in good form.
3. Vinícius Júnior vs Andreas Christensen
With Karim Benzema’s departure, Carlo Ancelotti has used Vinícius as a No 9 alongside Rodrygo. Vinicius hasn’t produced the goal contributions you would expect of him so far this season, although he has put in some impressive performances as a left forward. In his new position, the Brazilian has less defensive responsibility and is able to frequently drift into the left channel where he is at his most dangerous.
Dealing with the electric winger this weekend will likely be Andreas Christensen. The Danish defender isn’t known for his pace and therefore he will look to avoid any one-on-one situations with Vinícius. Christensen is more than capable in the air and Xavi will be instructing the defender to hold his position to avoid being drawn away by Vinícius when he moves into that left channel.