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La Liga: Where El Clasico will be won

Sunday sees the first El Clasico of the 2022/23 season and it is a top-of-the-table clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Both teams have won seven and drawn one of their first eight matches in Spain's Primera Liga and Barcelona are 21/10 to defeat hosts Real, who won both the Spanish title and the Champions League in 2021/22.

Despite Real's dominance last season, Barca won 4-0 at the Bernabeu in March and a repeat of that scoreline can be backed at 50/1. The match is available as part of our European Soccer Live Streaming Highlights and we have picked out some key battles which could determine where El Clasico will be won.

What:Real Madrid v Barcelona, Primera Liga
Where:Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, Spain
When:15:15, Sunday 16th October
How to watch:Premier Sports 1, LaLigaTV & European Soccer Live Streaming Highlights
Odds:Real Madrid 5/4, Draw 13/5, Barcelona 21/10

Real reassured by return of Courtois

Barcelona racked up 10 shots on target in their 4-0 win at the Bernabeu last season and Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will be hoping for more protection from his defenders on Sunday.

Courtois, Man of the Match in last term's Champions League final triumph over Liverpool, has missed Real's last four matches due to injury but coach Carlo Ancelotti is confident that the Belgium international will be fit to return in El Clasico.

The first-choice goalkeeper would be a reassuring presence for Real supporters as his understudy Andriy Lunin has kept only one clean sheet in league fixtures against Osasuna and Getafe and the Champions League double-header against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, now at Chelsea, scored twice in Barca's rout of Real in March and his replacement Robert Lewandowski will be eager to follow suit on his Clasico debut.

The Pole, who has made a blistering start to his career in Catalonia, scored two late goals to earn a 3-3 draw with Inter Milan at Camp Nou on Wednesday, taking his tally for the season to 14 in 12 appearances for his new club.

Midfield balance will be crucial for Ancelotti and Xavi

Real's vastly experienced midfield of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro provided the foundation for their success in 2021/22 but the Madrid engine-room is evolving this season.

Casemiro has left for Manchester United while Modric and Kroos have each started only five of Real's first eight league games and summer signing Aurelien Tchouameni has established himself as a key part of Ancelotti's plans.

The 22-year-old has started 11 of Real's 12 matches in the Primera Liga and Champions League and Eduardo Camavinga, another French youngster, is building on his impressive 2021/22 campaign in Madrid.

It will be interesting to see how Ancelotti lines up for Real's toughest test of the season on Sunday and his opposite number Xavi must also strike the right balance between youth and experience in midfield.

Teenagers Pedri and Gavi, along with veteran Sergio Busquets, have made up Xavi's preferred trio this season and they all started the midweek thriller against Inter Milan.

However, the Barca boss also has Frenkie de Jong and fit-again Franck Kessie, who is 12/1 to be first goalscorer on Sunday, as midfield options and whoever gets the nod can expect to be involved in a battle royale in the centre of the park.

March's meeting at the Bernabeu featured yellow cards for Modric, Kroos, Camavinga, De Jong and, unsurprisingly, the combative Busquets, who has been booked in three of his six league appearances this term.

Barca's defensive record could be dented

Real Madrid and Barcelona are joint-top of the Primera Liga standings with 22 points from eight matches but they have earned those points in contrasting styles.

Real, whose glorious Champions League campaign last term was studded with dramatic comebacks, have kept only one clean sheet in eight matches and both teams have scored in six of their seven league wins.

That outcome is 11/4 on Sunday while Barcelona are 11/2 to win to nil – something they have achieved in their last six league fixtures.

Xavi's hopes of another clean sheet from his side have been hit by a rash of defensive injuries and they have conceded at least once in all four of their Champions League group matches.

Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia started at centre-back against Inter, with Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen all sidelined, and Xavi suggested earlier in the week that Netherlands midfielder De Jong might be pressed into service at the heart of defence.

Barca have conceded only one goal in eight league matches this term but they will do well to extend that fine record against Real, who have scored at least twice in five of the last six Clasico clashes.

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