El Clasico comes to our screens for the first time this season on Saturday and promises to be as enticing an affair as it's always been.
Looking beyond the two individual powerhouses of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have been either injured (the former) or misfiring (the latter), it's a game that will be decided by key battles scattered across the Bernabeu.
The gap at the top of La Liga has been opened up to a mere three points between Real and leaders Barcelona, with Los Blancos looking to right a few wrongs following defeat to Sevilla last week and the Catalonians aiming to extend their winning streak.
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Separating the two has always been a difficult affair and with both sides swelled with stars, it is important to look at key battles on the pitch with margins of quality ever slimmer.
Sergio Ramos/Raphael Varane vs Luis Suarez
Suarez was full of praise for one of his Real rivals recently, admitting that Spaniard Ramos is the toughest opponent he has ever played against.
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Considering the Uruguayan's reputation in the Premier League as a bit of a punch bag, it goes without saying that Ramos can be a bit of a bruiser and could scupper the Uruguayan's influence this weekend.
However, a big issue is the fitness of the Spain international, which will place all-the-more importance on team-mate Varane's presence.
The Frenchman has proved he has the potential to be a world-class defender and the physicality to out muscle any striker in world football.
Suarez, though, has been in red hot form in the absense of Messi with the South American star only getting better. Never one to shy away from the big games, the ex-Liverpool striker struck his first El Clasico goal in March and will be looking to add to that record.
Gerard Pique vs Santiago Bernabeu
One of the harder match ups to call and surely a pivotal one in the game, is whether or not Real fans get the better of hot head Pique.
Atmosphere at the Bernabeu on Clasico nights is fiery to say the least and Pique's reputation of losing his cool when it matters has put his team in hot water before.
On his day, there are few defenders in Europe who read the game and tidy up more elegantly than the Spain international, but the animosity that Real's faithful show towards their great rivals, and knowing Pique is an easy target, will require the Spaniard to keep a strong head throughout the clash.
Luka Modric vs Andres Iniesta
Barca's midfield has looked tidy and untested so far in La Liga, with little of the same being said for Real, especially given how easily Sevilla dismantled them last time out.
Croatian star Modric is without doubt one of the best distributors and dribblers of the ball in Europe, but it's his work ethic that has established himself as Los Blancos' stand-out midfield man.
Iniesta, on the other hand, operates on a different level; his movement off the ball often finds him in pockets of space you didn't think existed.
Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic offer suitable coverage, giving the ageing maestro the freedom to dictate without wasting energy, but with Modric patrolling and most likely tasked with disrupting the Spaniard's flow, it could be a simple case of the two cancelling each other out.
Dani Carvajal vs Neymar Jr
The Madrid full-back couldn't have asked for a worse time to play arguably the most exciting winger in world football, but unfortunately for him, he faces Brazil prodigy Neymar in the form of his life.
Carvajal has done well up against Neymar in the past, but expect reinforced cover down the left in an attempt to neutralise the Brazilian's influence on the game.
It will likely prove the hardest fought battle of the clash.
Luis Enrique's side look too hot to handle for Real, who appear bewildered in defence amidst a time when the Suarez/Neymar combo is at its devastating best.
Although Barca came out on top last time the sides met and look the bookies favourite again on Saturday, it's Real who have had more success recently, with Los Blancos conquering Barcelona in two of the last three meetings.
Form never seems to matter in Europe's most high-profile derby, though, and come saturday Real will feel they have a point to prove. Barca look like an unbeatable side, but if any team can challenge their dominance you feel it would have to be their fiercest rivals.
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