MX23RW : Monday, November 19 10:06:58

Combined XI: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

Ahead of the final El Clasico showdown of the season, Sports Mole selects the strongest combined XI using players from both sides of the divide.

After wrapping up the title with four matches to spare last weekend, the pressure is off Barcelona as they welcome Real Madrid to Camp Nou on Sunday evening.

Barca still have yet to taste defeat in a near-perfect domestic campaign and are now on the brink of going the entire season unbeaten, which has never been achieved by a Spanish side in a 38-game term.

Madrid will be desperate to prevent their arch-rivals from making history, of course, and they are in need of points to claw back Atletico Madrid in second place.

Here, Sports Mole selects a combined XI from those expected to be available for the final El Clasico showdown of the season.


Combined XI: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane has constantly played down talk of a new goalkeeper being needed, but if rumours are to be believed then Keylor Navas could well be replaced come the end of the campaign. The Costa Rica international has the ability to produce big saves and make howlers in equal measure, whereas Marc-Andre ter Stegen has so often come to the rescue of his at-times-shaky backline and therefore gets the nod.

Right-back has proved to be particularly troublesome for Los Blancos of late, having lost Dani Carvajal and Nacho to injury, leading to Lucas Vazquez - an attacking right-sided player by trade - slotting into the backline against Bayern Munich in the week. Barcelona have alternated between Sergio Roberto and Nelson Semedo, meanwhile, and it is the former who boasts the better figures this term with six assists and one goal in the top flight. On the left the decision is a little easier, as Jordi Alba continues to impress in his sixth season in Catalonia.

Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos have become synonymous with the modern-day El Clasico tussles and are real warriors for their respective sides. Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane both have their strengths, but Pique and Ramos remain two of the first names on the teamsheet.

This side is certainly not lacking in creativity, as Luka Modric and Andres Iniesta are both included. Modric has established himself as one of the finest distributors of the ball anywhere on the continent, albeit dropping slightly in quality in comparison to last season, and Iniesta - competing in his final El Clasico match fitness permitting - will go down in history as arguably the most influential Barca player of all time, which is saying something.

The likes of Ivan Rakitic, Philippe Coutinho and Toni Kroos also have their own strengths, but a little balance is needed in the middle and for that you can look no further than Sergio Busquets. The Spain international is still arguably the best in the world at what he does, playing a part in 27 of Barca's 34 league games this term and earning himself a 27th major honour.

As ever, talk regarding Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will dominate the build-up to this latest blockbuster encounter, with both men once again scoring goals aplenty this term. The inclusion of Marco Asensio alongside them would provide some balance, yet the stats that Luis Suarez boasts this term - 23 goals and nine assists in the league - means that he quite simply has to lead the line.

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Gareth Bale in action for Real Madrid in September 2017
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona1273234181624
2Sevilla1272324141023
3Atletico MadridAtletico12651168823
4AlavesAlaves127231712523
5Espanyol126331610621
6Real Madrid126242016420
7Real Valladolid1245399017
8Levante125251819-117
9GironaGirona124531314-117
10Real Sociedad124441514116
11Getafe124441110116
12Real Betis124441215-316
13EibarEibar124351218-615
14Celta Vigo123542220214
15Valencia1228289-114
16Villarreal122551113-211
17Athletic Bilbao121741319-610
18Leganes12246916-710
19Rayo Vallecano121471425-117
20Huesca121381025-156

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