This article was originally posted as Possible Madrid Side for Saturday's Clásico on Spain Football Community.
Real Madrid come to Saturday's Clásico (10/12/11) with a three point advantage at the top of La Liga, which would be six if FC Barcelona hadn't brought forward their Week 17 match against Rayo due to their commitments in the FIFA Clubs World Cup in Japan.
So The Blancos will be going into this Clásico with effectively a six-point lead. Consequently, even though they might not want to admit it this means that a draw in Santiago Bernabéu wouldn't be such a bad result, as they would still be left with a very clear advantage at the top of the table.
It's quite possible then that Jose Mourinho might make some subtle changes to the starting line-up that we've become so familiar with throughout the season.
The picture below (scanned from Monday's Mundo Deportivo) shows two possible variations - the 'Anti-Barça' team is shown first with a more typical eleven at the bottom of the picture.
The Anti-Barça Team
Whilst maintaining the basic 4-2-3-1 system, I would hazard a guess that Khedira could well move forward to play in Ozil's position - the Germano-Turk has been a little inconsistent this season, and is hardly necessary in the middle if the magnificently mobile Di María is on form.
Obviously, it's not just the points that are at stake - it's also a question of institutional pride. Real Madrid will want to win, but Jose Mourinho is a canny enough tactician to know that the way to beat Barça is to suffocate their creative midfield players, Xavi in particular! So a slightly (very slightly) more defensive seems quite reasonable to me.
If I were Mourinho, I'd put the hard-working but not particularly creative Lass on Xavi, leaving the midfield play to Xabi 'the brain' Alonso and Khedira.
Other Options In Attack
Obviously, (and I bet Jose Mourinho is losing some sleep over this) everything depends on whether Guardiola decides on 4-3-3 or 3-4-3. If it's the former, we're going to see a midfield war of attrition. If it's the latter, and Alves is the sacrificed defender, Real Madrid will be able to do a lot of damage on the break
It's also important to remember that there'll be some real class on the bench. Depending on the state of play, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kaká or Ozil coming before the break. And if Real Madrid are down in the second half, the player most capable of turning the game around is the lethal 'Pipita' Higuain!
What's more the set pieces are going to be crucial, and Barça are going to have to be very careful about giving away corners and free kicks on the edge of the box.
I'm really looking forward to this Clásico. The two best teams in the world are shooting it out for an incredible seventh time this year! Two completely different styles of football, two diametrically opposed coaches, two historically antagonistic clubs.
Whatever happens this Clásico is going to be Classic!