For the first time in the Pep Guardiola - Jose Mourinho era, Real Madrid will enter El Clasico as the favorites to defeat Barcelona. Many were optimistic about Madrid's chances to get a result before the thrashing they suffered last November, but of all of the matches played between the sides over the last two-plus years, this is the one that Real Madrid have been given the best chance to win.
Barcelona's forte has always been possession-based football utilizing short passes, and they will have to be at their best in terms of keeping the ball on Saturday, according to FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.
Barcelona's best chance at beating Madrid is to keep the ball in their possession. The pressure in the Bernabéu is going to be extremely intense, and as Barça likes to attack up the wings, they must be prepared to retreat when necessary. Moving the ball through the middle is the key to turning away from the pressure and exploiting the weak side of Madrid's defense.
Passing back to the center-backs is better than losing the ball, but by the time Barça reaches the other side of the pitch, Madrid will have recovered and be pressuring anew. Xavi and especially Busquets must show for the ball in the middle and turn it successfully in the face of Khedira and Alonso. Not an easy task, but if anybody can do it, it's them.
Real Madrid's rumored Trivote - a setup with three holding midfielders - will likely give Sergio Busquets and the Barcelona defenders as much time on the ball as they want. It will be interesting to see exactly what they are able to do with it.
For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes. Check out SB Nation Soccer and our El Clasico StoryStream for more in the build-up to the game. For more from around the world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.