Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, 2011 El Clasico: Mesut Özil Could Sit For Los Blancos - Managing Madrid

The brilliance of Mesut Özil and Kaka during this season has given Jose Mourinho one of those good problems. Every week, he has to consider which one of them to drop to the bench, or whether he starts Özil in a wide position to accommodate both of them. Almost certainly, he can only start one of them in El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, and it's his biggest selection dilemma. That is, unless he starts neither of them.

When asked whether Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema - two strikers who are also in superb form - could possibly play together, Mourinho said that only one of them would play in a front three with Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria. Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid attempted to put that statement into context.

This one little phrase gives us a very revealing window into Mourinho's thought process leading up to the clásico: not only did he not mention Mesut Özil, he also presented a possible offensive trivote of Ronaldo, Di María and one of the two strikers. These two little extrapolations give us a hint at a possible starting XI for Real Madrid: a 4-3-3 with a Lass--Xabi Alonso--Sami Khedira defensive trivot, and a Ronaldo--Benzema/Higuaín--Di María offensive front.

Obviously, this is pretty much what we've been expecting for weeks now: one of the keys to the match will be high-intensity defending in the midfield and the offensive sectors, and this lineup seems to allow Mourinho to go all-in on the medium-high press. It also gives him the option of bringing either a fully-rested Mesut Özil or Kaká off the bench if things take a nasty turn.

Starting without both of Özil and Kaka is a gamble on Mourinho's part, but between his Champions League triumph with Inter Milan and Real Madrid's victory in last season's Copa Del Rey Final, he's earned the benefit of the doubt.

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.

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