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3 keys to El Clásico between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid

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Can Real Madrid dominate the ball?

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Which team will be forced to sit back and counterattack? Will Real Madrid start Casemiro to play more cautious football at the Camp Nou? Would that work? All those questions will be answered early in the game, but the dynamic of the whole match could also change if the right substitutions are made. Either way, this will be a very demanding test for Zinedine Zidane against a proven manager like Luis Enrique. Does Zidane have all it takes to be Real's manager for years to come?

  1. Kroos position. If Casemiro starts, Kroos will be given more freedom to operate and make some plays in Barcelona's side of the pitch. Initially, this should make the German midfielder more comfortable, but we've seen mixed results of this Casemiro-Kroos-Modric trio throughout the season. Starting Casemiro could be a risky decision by Zidane.
  2. Will Barcelona control the possession of the game? Both teams should try to dominate the game through the ball, but Barça will surely try to score an opening goal in the first few minutes. It will be extremely important for Madrid to play with composure and try to slow things down with the ball. The Kroos-Modric vs Rakitic-Iniesta battle will be huge for the outcome of the game, but don't forget Sergio Busquets' influence in Barcelona's game.
  3. Substitutions. If Casemiro starts, Real will have a deeper bench than Barcelona with James and Isco waiting for their chance. They haven't been playing well this season but both of them will definitely try to prove their worth if given the chance. These two playmakers have the quality to step up and single-handedly change the course of the match, so expect Zidane to be aggressive with his substitutions if things aren't going well for his team.