Gerardo Martino’s doubts
Who’ll be at the centre of defense is all but a mystery.
Pique ‘s injury has Martino on tenterhooks. If he recovers, he’ll be certain to start. If not, the guesswork starts. Puyol seems to have his place assured and his companion could be Marc Bartra, who will give more reliability in the passing game and help out more on the ball. Mascherano has lost out after his gaffe in Milan.
Between Xavi, Iniesta and Cesc, one will be left out.
This always happens to Barca’s midfield and one of the three will not be in the starting lineup. In Milan, it was Cesc who sat on the bench. It seems unlikely that it will happen again. Iniesta could be the one to start on the bench as he’s not made a brilliant start to the season so far.
Pedro has more going for him than Alexis Sánchez.
The Chilean has had a good run, but in the San Siro he didn’t really show. Pedro looks like taking his place as he always puts in a good performance against Madrid.
Carlo Ancelotti’s doubts
Either Bale or Benzema will play in attack.
Ancelotti is clear that his system will not change; he said so at the press conference after winning at Juventus. So, there will be three midfielders, Illarra, Khedira and Modric. But in attack, he could choose to keep Benzema against all odds (the Frenchman hasn’t scored since last September 17th) or go for Bale, who he already announced would be available for the game. However, the Welshman is far from his best. Another option, which is more remote, is that Isco comes on instead of Gareth Bale or Karim Benzema.
Coentrao could play on the left leaving Marcelo on the bench.
Ancelotti is just not convinced of Marcelo’s defensive performance of late, despite all he offers the team when Madrid has the ball. So the Italian may choose to go with Fabio Coentrao, who Mourinho always preferred ahead of the Brazilian when they faced Barca. Real Madrid suffered heavily on the left side against Juventus the other day and the manager will seek to rectify this.