It is not often that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi get overshadowed by another player in the build up to an El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona. However, that is certainly the reality at the moment, with the majority of the pre-kickoff buzz leading into what promises to be a humdinger of an El Clasico zeroed in on one man and his return from THAT biting man.
Luis Suarez will put on a Barcelona shirt for the first time in a competitive fixture, and it just so happens that the competitive fixture is most important one that a Barcelona player can play in
It would be a dream for any football fan if Luis Enrique names Suarez from the start alongside the other two superstars Messi and Neymar. However, that remains extremely unlikely, and Suarez looks certain to start the game on the bench, even if Enrique promised the Uruguayan, making a return from a biting ban, "will have a few minutes on the pitch without doubt."
"He will have some minutes without doubt, how many I cannot say," said Enrique. "It is a big thing for him, to join up finally with the team and get some minutes."
While Suarez has been the cynosure in the build-up to this El Clasico, his more illustrious teammate Messi will target another record. Messi currently has 250 La Liga goals to his name, just one short of the all-time record held by Telmo Zarra, and nobody would bet against the Barca talisman equalling the mark, and indeed beating it, at the home turf of his team's greatest rivals.
Barcelona have been supreme in the La Liga this season, picking up a near-perfect 22 points from the first eight matches. Enrique's men are yet to concede a single goal in those eight games, while 22 goals have flowed at the other end.
Real Madrid have been more prolific in front of goal this season – Ronaldo alone has scored 15 goals – but they have also conceded plenty, which in turn has kept them four points adrift of Barcelona going into this most mouth-watering of El Clasicos.
"There is no other game in the world with so much quality in attack, and the same goes for midfield and at the back," said Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti. "I don't know what the key will be. Defending well is very important and could be key, Luis Enrique may well think the same.
"Approaching the game is quite easy because we know each other. We'll play the football that we want to play, with our ideas. We have to attack to the best of our ability and defend to the best of our ability.
"To win, we have to put in a great match. I don't think we have an advantage in midfield because we're playing against a team that has always had quality and experience in the middle of the park."
While Ronaldo will look to keep his ridiculous goalscoring form intact, Real Madrid will miss the services of Gareth Bale, who has been ruled out of the El Clasico with a hip injury, which also kept him out of Real's impressive 3-0 romp at Liverpool in the Champions League.
Bale will be missed by Real Madrid, considering the Welshman made the difference in that unforgettable Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona, scoring a goal for the ages to help his team lift the title.
However, with the likes of James Rodriguez, Isco, Toni Kroos, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric there to support Ronaldo, Real certainly have plenty of quality to overcome the injury absence of Bale.
The match does look like being Real Madrid's stupendous attack vs Barcelona's ridiculously gifted attack, and the attack that performs better on the day will walk away with the El Clasico bragging rights.
Where to Watch Live
Watch the Highlights of the El Clasico HERE
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The El Clasico is set for a 6 pm local time (9.30 pm IST, 5 pm BST, 12 pm ET) start with live coverage in India on on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports HD2. The match can also be watched via live streaming online in India on StarSports.com. Catch the action in the UK on Sky Sports 5, with the option to live stream the match online on Watch Sky Sports or Sky Go.
Viewers in the US and Canada can watch the La Liga game on Bein Sports USA and Bein Sports Canada respectively, while the encounter can also be live streamed on Bein Sports ConnectTV. Audience in the Middle East and North Africa can catch the action via live streaming on Bein Sports Connect, while South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa viewers can do the same Supersport Online.
Viewers in Latin and South America can catch the El Clasico on ESPN, with the option to live stream available on ESPN Play. Australia viewers watch the Real Madrid vs Barcelona game on Fox Sports 3 or the channel's Live Video option online. Viewers in South Korea can catch the match on KBSN Sports.
Team news: Real Madrid: Bale is the only major injury concern for Real Madrid, even if Jese Rodriguez is still on the sidelines. Ancelotti confirmed Sergio Ramos will be fine to face Barcelona, after the defender missed the win against Liverpool.
Barcelona: Sergio Busquets will make a return after missing the last two matches, while the likes of Thomas Vermaelen, Adriano and Douglas are struggling to be fit for the big game,
Expected lineups: Real Madrid: Casillas; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos, Isco; James Rodriguez, Benzema, Ronaldo.
Barcelona: Bravo; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Neymar.