Five keys to Real Madrid v Barcelona

MADRID: Real Madrid realistically need to end Barcelona´s 24-match unbeaten run to maintain hopes of retaining their La Liga title when Spanish football´s two behemoths meet in El Clasico on Saturday (1200GMT).Barca lead fourth-placed Madrid by 11 points at the top of the table, albeit Real do have a game in hand.
However, it was at the Santiago Bernabeu that Barca last tasted defeat in August as Real cruised to a 5-1 aggregate win in the Spanish Super Cup.Here, AFP Sports looks at five keys to deciding who will end the year victorious.Barca have overcome Neymar´s departure with relative ease thanks to left-back Jordi Alba´s return to form, in large part caused by the Brazilian´s absence on the left side of Barca´s attack.
“I have a lot more room to go forward and in all honesty for me it is much better,” admitted the Spanish international.Lionel Messi has also benefited with three of Alba´s six assists this season setting up the Argentine.The Alba-Messi connection also gave Barca a famous 3-2 win as Messi scored with the last kick of the ball at the Bernabeu in April when Neymar was suspended.Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal has played just five games since September due to a long-term virus and a lack of cover offered by Madrid´s narrow four-man midfield could give Alba plenty of space to exploit.

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