Lionel Messi: New Barcelona president vows to keep star
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Barcelona go up against Real Madrid in El Clasico on Saturday night. And, should they pick up all three points, they’ll boost their chances of winning the La Liga title. So Express Sport will now bring you the XI Ronald Koeman is expected to deploy for tonight’s blockbuster showdown.
Goalkeeper: Ter Stegen
Barcelona are likely to keep Marc-Andre Ter Stegen in goal for tonight’s game.
The Germany international has been consistent again this term, despite many of his team-mates struggling throughout the majority of the campaign.
Ter Stegen has experience of playing in this fixture, something that can’t be understated.
And he’ll be hoping for another clean sheet having kept Real Valladolid at bay on Monday night.
That means Arnau Tenas having to make do with a spot on the bench, with the 19-year-old still awaiting his big chance to shine.
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Defence: Mingueza, De Jong, Pique
Barcelona have found consistency by playing a back three.
And Clement Lenglet may find himself on the bench for El Clasico, with Gerard Pique named in the squad following his return from injury.
Alongside the Spain international should be Frenkie De Jong, who has adjusted well to being deployed in a new position.
And Oscar Mingueza is primed to start, too.
He’s had a good season under Koeman and will likely be charged with the task of keeping Marco Asensio at bay, particularly after his goal against Liverpool in midweek.
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Midfield: Dest, Busquets, Pedri, Alba
Barcelona are likely to deploy Sergino Dest and Jordi Alba on both wings, allowing the pair to get forward and hurt Real Madrid’s defence.
Dest only arrived from Ajax back in the summer and has emerged as a vital player, making 33 appearances so far.
And Alba, as a stalwart, knows all about the magnitude of El Clasico.
In the middle is likely to be Sergio Busquets, with the Spain international rolling back the years with some vintage displays of late.
And with Pedri simply too good to ignore, it’s likely he’ll be fielded in the middle of the park as well.
Attack: Messi, Dembele, Griezmann
Lionel Messi hasn’t scored in El Clasico for over a 1000 days now.
So with this potentially being the Argentina international’s last appearance in the fixture, he’ll be out to prove a point.
Barcelona have seen Antoine Griezmann improve of late, with the France international finally taking steps towards living up to his £108million fee.
And, up top, Ousmane Dembele has been reborn.
He could be deployed in the No 9 role, with Messi and Griezmann either side.
Koeman speaks out
On whether the result will be significant for the La Liga title race, Koeman said: “The result will not be decisive because afterwards there are still many matchdays but it’s an important moment in La Liga that’s for sure.
“We are fighting for top spot and the team that wins will get more of a boost.”
He then added: The team has a lot of confidence, it’s going to be a great match.
“Real have also improved and we are fighting to obtain the best possible result.
“The team wants to win La Liga and so yes it’s a very important match.”
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