18th of December is the date singled out on everybody’s calendars. Barcelona taking on Real Madrid in the El Clasico is world football’s biggest and most anticipated match for fans and neutrals alike.
A league game that could be mistaken for a Champions League final with the number of superstar names on both sides. This time a whole lot more asides pride could be there for the taking for whichever side emerges victorious.
At the tie of writing, both Barcelona and Madrid remain locked on 34 points and only a fragile +2 goal difference (Skysports) puts the Catalan ahead as it stands. Meaning whoever takes all three points already has one hand on the La Liga title- potentially.
Zidane will have some big decisions to make as it is believed three of Madrid’s influential players could be unavailable for the El Clasico.
As per Marca, Eden Hazard would miss the fixture alongside Marcelo. Gareth Bale is also a doubt for the fixture and would be sweating to regain full fitness before then – which is only a little probability as reported by Diaro AS.
While the absence of those big names will be a blow for Real Madrid, two youngsters are in prime position to make their impact felt on the El Clasico. Step forward Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr.
This fixture has seen the likes of Ronaldo, Romario, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos and other Brazilian legends feature in the past and these two teenagers have the potential to be mentioned in the same breath as these legends. To play for a club like Real Madrid is to be under this type of pressure and be successful.
Rodrygo has ray taken the Real Madrid first team by storm this season. In the absence of key names like Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio, the 18-year-old was promoted to the first team’s starting lineup and has taken his chance.
The boy from Osasco has become one of the key figures at the Bernabeu and already he looks a sure thing. With the absence of Gareth Bale, he will be in line to start against Barcelona, in what would be the biggest game of his fledgeling career so far.
His place in the side might come under threat with the presence of Federico Valverde depending on the formation Zidane would choose to go with.
Vinicius Junior was also a player that took the opportunity he had to break into Madrid’s first team but saw his run in the side cut short after an injury in the Champions League last 16 ruled him out for the rest of the season.
He did start for a spell this season because new signing Eden Hazard was injured but Vinicius was unimpressive in that time which led to him being used sparingly ever since.
With an injury to Eden Hazard, Vinicius has the chance to get a run of games and prove himself before the big one next week although he may face stiff competition from Isco as well.
Against Espanyol, the Spaniard had a really good game, was positive with the way he took on players and in his decision making. He looks to be back in form and this will be good news for Zinedine Zidane.
Real Madrid will already face a hostile atmosphere at the Nou Camp and the further absence of key players only makes the clash more difficult. These young players would need to be prepared mentally and physically to make their mark on the continent’s most fierce rivalry.