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Real Madrid vs Barcelona – El Clásico Combined XI

Real Madrid and Barcelona collide in world football’s biggest club fixture this weekend, as Spanish football’s big two meet at the Bernabeu.

A rivalry filled with incident, animosity, and some of the greatest names to have played the game, Sunday’s showdown is a crucial fixture for both teams. For Barcelona, it’s a must-win clash if the Catalans are to cling on to hopes of defending their La Liga crown, while Real Madrid can take a massive step closer to the title – extending their lead to 11 points – with victory on home soil.

Ahead of the clash, we’ve selected our Real Madrid and Barcelona Combined XI.

Goalkeeper: Marc-André ter Stegen – Barcelona

Some at Barcelona are suggesting Ter Stegen’s absence has cost the club their title defence this season. The German goalkeeper led Europe’s top five leagues for clean sheets (26), clean sheet percentage (57.1%) and save percentage (84.7%) last season but missed an extended period with a back complaint earlier in the campaign.

Since returning to the side he has been key to an unbeaten run, with the 31-year-old currently on a run of six straight shutouts and 583 minutes of La Liga action without conceding a goal.

Right-back: Dani Carvajal – Real Madrid

Dani Carvajal’s never-say-die attitude extends off the pitch with the veteran right-back bouncing back from a tough campaign last term. The 32-year-old was deemed on the decline last season, but he has been an underrated part of Real Madrid’s charge towards La Liga and Champions League success in 2023/24.

Carvajal battled brilliantly as Real Madrid beat Manchester City to reach the Champions League semi-finals, leaving everything out on the pitch at the Etihad. It is a spirit from the Spaniard that has taken him within reach of a sixth European crown.

Centre-back: Antonio Rudiger – Real Madrid

A club famed for Galactico investment secured one of their best transfers of recent times for nothing in 2022.

Though his talent was no secret at Chelsea, the German has taken his game to new heights at the Bernabeu. This season, as defensive partners have succumbed to long-term injuries, Rudiger has risen again to lead the Real Madrid backline with some monstrous performances at centre-back.

A real warrior for Carlo Ancelotti this season.

Centre-back: Ronald Araujo – Barcelona

Ronald Araujo will be aiming to bounce back in El Clásico after a costly error in the club’s Champions League exit to Paris Saint-Germain this week. That mistake should not detract from a defender who is knocking on the door of the world’s elite, however, with clubs in Europe considering offers in the region of €100m this summer.

An aggressive defender with anticipation and speed, if he can eradicate occasional moments of rashness the 25-year-old can reach the bracket of the very best.

Left-back: Ferland Mendy – Real Madrid

Arguably the best left-back in the world defensively, beating Ferland Mendy one-on-one has been a problem few wingers in world football have consistently solved of late.

The 28-year-old’s defensive excellence has even led to his manager claiming Mendy currently has no equal in the world game.

“Let me repeat, Ferland Mendy is the best in the world in his position,” Ancelotti said of the Frenchman this week. That’s high praise, from a manager who has coached Paolo Maldini, Ashley Cole, Phillip Lahm and Marcelo. He certainly knows an elite full-back when he sees one.

Midfield: Toni Kroos – Real Madrid

Toni Kroos’ evergreen excellence has seen club and country beg the midfielder to continue his career. Germany have won their battle to persuade the 34-year-old out of international retirement, ahead of a European Championship on home soil in the summer.

First, Kroos is targeting La Liga and Champions League success with Real Madrid, potential fourth and fifth titles respectively in each competition since his switch to Spain a decade ago.

He leads La Liga for passes into the final third and progressive passes this season while ranking fifth for chances created despite his deep-lying role. Giving the ball to Kroos is one of the safest bets in football, his distribution is almost always immaculate.

Midfield: Ilkay Gundogan – Barcelona

Barcelona’s financial issues have seen free agents targeted of late and Ilkay Gundogan has been one of the best of the lot. Signed after captaining Manchester City to treble success, he has become an irreplaceable figure in Xavi’s midfield and a prolific chance-creator for the Catalans.

He’s racked up 10 assists in all competitions and leads La Liga for chances created this season. In January, Barcelona boss Xavi said the midfielder’s signing has been heaven-sent.

“Ilkay is contributing a lot to us. The other day he made the difference in a difficult moment. He is a player who marks the personality of the team. He is always positive. He has fallen from the sky for us.”

Midfield: Federico Valverde – Real Madrid

Federico Valverde might just remain one of the most underrated midfielders in the game, though there’s no doubt he’s universally appreciated at the Bernabeu. Valverde is a phenomenon with his endless energy in the Madrid midfield, covering the ground from the first whistle until the last, driving with the ball in possession and making intelligent decisions while operating at full speed.

Valverde’s work rate and carry were crucial over two legs as Real Madrid eliminated holders Manchester City from the Champions League, his hustle and heart the driving force in the club’s bid for the biggest prizes this season.

Right-wing: Rodrygo – Real Madrid

Perhaps overlooked in comparison to his teammates in the forward line, Rodrygo has carved a niche for deciding big games.

He scored in both legs of the Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City and was also on target as Real Madrid thrashed Barcelona 4-1 in The Supercopa de España earlier in the campaign. The Brazilian begins wide before morphing into a forward role, a hybrid attacker who often drifts into positions where he can hurt opposition defences.

Left-wing: Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid

The game-changer for Real Madrid. When at his best, Vinicius Junior can be one of the most decisive players in world football. The Brazil international has 18 goals and 10 assists in all competitions this season, having reached 20+ on each metric in 2021/22 and 2022/23.

His evolution from promising wide talent to fully formed match-winner has been fascinating to watch, with Vinicius combining electricity with end product. In a more central role on occasion this season he has thrived, ranking in the 99th percentile of forwards for progressive carries, successful take-ons and attacking penalty area touches.

Forward: Jude Bellingham – Real Madrid

Jude Bellingham’s rampaging role at Real Madrid has made the midfielder the favourite for the Ballon d’Or.

The 20-year-old’s stunning start in Spanish football has seen Bellingham score 20 goals in all competitions during his debut campaign, with Carlo Ancelotti opting to use the drive and dynamism of the England international in advanced areas of the pitch.

The results have been remarkable, with Bellingham offering an all-action outlet for Los Blancos, capable of hold-up and bursting beyond backlines.

The ease at which he has adapted to the demands of Real Madrid has been unbelievable.

Read – Five of the best players to play for Barcelona and Real Madrid

See more – Wing Wizards: Luis Figo – Brilliance and betrayal

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