It’s finally here: the first Clasico of the season between European football’s two behemoths, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The Santiago Bernabeu is the venue for the biggest match of the 2015-16 season so far and world football’s superstars - Lionel Messi included - will all be hoping to be one of the 22 names selected to start.
With two star-studded squads of players, worth a combined billions of pounds, it’s a nigh-on impossible task choosing the best 11 players for a combined XI. But we’ve given it a go - and you can see our selections by scrolling a little further down this page.
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First of all, the honourable mentions. It feels almost criminal omitting the likes of Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema, Isco, Raphael Varane, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Javier Mascherano - we could be here all day.
But ultimately only eleven players can make it and, out of necessity, we’ve been forced to be harsh with the selection process.
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Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas | Real Madrid
Keylor Navas has been arguably Real Madrid’s best player this season and that’s no exaggeration.
Real Madrid have conceded just seven league goals this season and a huge amount of credit for that must go to their Costa Rican keeper, who almost joined Manchester United at the end of the summer transfer window.
Left-back: Marcelo | Real Madrid
Jordi Alba can feel a little hard done-by here - the Barcelona ace is also a superb full-back - but Marcelo gets the nod over the Spain international.
A surprisingly underrated left-back, the 27-year-old Marcelo is a brilliant attacking full-back who contributes so much to Real Madrid going forwards but is still mindful of his defensive responsibilities.
Centre-back: Gerard Pique | Barcelona
A class act, Gerard Pique is 28 now but still one of the world’s elite central defenders.
The Spaniard has had his inconsistent spells at Barcelona during recent seasons but has rediscovered his best form since Luis Enrique arrived at the club in the summer of 2014.
Centre-back: Sergio Ramos | Real Madrid
Raphael Varane is a top defender but Sergio Ramos still has the edge over his younger defensive partner for the time being.
A talismanic figure at the heart of Real Madrid’s defence, it was imperative for Los Blancos that they kept him at the Bernabeu following all the intense speculation over his future in the summer.
Right-back: Dani Alves | Barcelona
Dani Alves is getting on a bit a now; however, the Brazilian is still an important player for Barcelona.
In truth, there is very little to separate Alves from either Dani Carvajal or Danilo. Just don’t write off Alves just yet.
Central midfield: Sergio Busquets | Barcelona
Luis Enrique recently stated that Sergio Busquets is the world’s best midfielder - and it’s genuinely difficult to argue with that assessment.
The World Cup winner is a class act who never panics under pressure and always seems to choose the right option.
Central midfield: Andres Iniesta | Barcelona
Andres Iniesta might be past his best but he is still a world-class midfielder.
One of the best players of his generation, wouldn’t it be lovely to see him boss one last Clasico before he leaves the Camp Nou.
Left wing: Cristiano Ronaldo | Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo, the current holder of the Ballon d’Or, has to make every single Real Madrid/Barcelona combined XI.
The Portuguese superstar might be slowing down a little bit - he’s no longer the explosive winger of yesteryear - but he still lives to score goals.
Right wing: Neymar | Barcelona
It seems certain that Neymar will win the Ballon d’Or in the near future.
The Brazilian has been magnificent for Barcelona since arriving at the Camp Nou from Santos two-and-a-half years ago and currently leads the race for the Pichichi with 11 goals.
Playmaker: Lionel Messi | Barcelona
The world’s best player - sorry, Cristiano - Lionel Messi has scored more goals (21) than any player in the history of El Clasico.
Having returned to training this week, there’s a chance Messi will feature at the Bernabeu this weekend. If he does, Barcelona’s chances of winning will significantly increase.
Striker: Luis Suarez | Barcelona
The £75 million Barcelona paid Liverpool for Luis Suarez now looks an absolute bargain.
An extraordinary forward, Suarez has scored plenty of goals and stayed out of trouble since arriving at the Camp Nou.
Do you agree or disagree with our combined XI? Let us know yours by leaving a comment in the box below!
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