Barcelona head to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday in an unprecedented position for a La Liga side.
No goals conceded going into the last weekend of October is an astonishing statistic and one that the Catalans will fight tooth and nail to protect.
In all likelihood Real will provide the sternest test of the season so far for Barca, however, as they showed in this white-hot cauldron last season, they are more then capable of soaking up pressure and providing a hammer blow late on.
This season’s edition comes with added spice and is sure to keep an estimated TV audience exceeding one billion enthralled from first minute until last.
Let’s take a look at three reasons why Barcelona will still be sitting pretty at the summit after Saturday’s epic…
One player does not make a team but in this instance Luis Suarez’s presence will greatly unsettle the Madrid back four.
Lionel Messi has always been a thorn in the side of Los Blancos and Carlo Ancelotti found a winning solution even harder to come by in the league last season when Neymar was introduced into the mix.
The Argentine and Brazilian are already enjoying rich veins of form during this campaign, and will carry a significant threat. And then comes the excellent Uruguayan.
Say what you like about certain misdemeanours, there is no denying that Luis Suarez is a match-winner on his day.
Sharp, inventive and an eye for goal that was only matched by Cristiano Ronaldo last season, Real have an unbelievably tough job in containing Suarez for the entire 90 minutes.
The suggestion of a 4-4-2 set up from Carlo Ancelotti, to nullify Barca’s significant threat in attack, already gives rise to the notion that Madrid are prepared to curtail their own natural game before a ball has even been kicked.
The Catalans themselves are renowned for not deviating from a 4-3-3 formation, however a versatile approach, perhaps even switching between formations during the match, will certainly give Real food for thought in how they themselves approach the 90 minutes.
Luis Enrique now has players at his disposal who are comfortable with being utilized in a variety of different positions.
Whilst the basic shape is likely to remain the same, the versatility which the Catalans can bring to the party is what will win them the game.
Pressure all on Madrid
Clear at the summit of La Liga going into the match, Barcelona can afford to lose in the Santiago Bernabeu and still remain proudly at the top of the pile.
A freedom to play without pressure in Madrid’s back yard is a luxury that few Barca managers have had and although the loss of three points won’t please Luis Enrique, it’s not quite the disaster that will befall Los Blancos should they fail to triumph.
It would put them a distant ……points behind Barca after only nine games, and even at this early stage, that is one hell of a gap to make up.
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