El Clásico preview: Stumbling Barcelona host in-form Real Madrid

It may only be December, but Barcelona’s hopes of retaining their La Liga crown are on the line when they host arch-rivals Real Madrid on Saturday at the Nou Camp.
This is football’s biggest rivalry, and form quite literally goes out the window when the sides clash.
The Catalans are trailing Los Blancos by a significant six points despite it being early days, which is reason enough for the home side to go all out.
However, playing on the counter is something what Madrid excel at, which makes it anybody’s guess who will take home the spoils.
What exactly is going wrong in Catalonia?
It’s easy to say that Neymar and Suarez aren’t firing on all cylinders, but a team that is stocked with talent as Barca are shouldn’t be so dependent on two players, no matter their pedigree.
Sergio Busquets–their wall in the defensive midfield department has seen a sudden dip in form, while their defence has been lucky at times to not concede even more. 
If there is one man who has been outstanding come rain or shine, it’s been Lionel Messi of course. Close to 20 goals in all competitions, the Argentine wizard is in brilliant form even if his teammates are not.
Still, Messi is just one part of the famed ‘MSN’ trio and Neymar (scoreless in five games) in particular will need to be sharp if Barca are to force a favourable result.
Their 4-3-3 formation is not likely to see much change, with Ivan Rakitic a key threat with his well-timed runs from midfield.
Andres Iniesta is available for selection at just about the right time, giving the beleaguered Catalans a much needed boost.
Real Madrid
Real have taken advantage of their rivals slip ups to canter to a six-point lead early in the La Liga season.
Zinedine Zidane managerial skills are being praised in all quarters and the legend could further endear himself to the Madridistas should they script a famous victory at the Nou Camp. While they mirror their arch-rivals formation, their 4-3-3 is built to plunder, not dominate, which will be a source of concern for the hosts.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing, however, as draws against Legia Warsaw and Borussia Dortmund in Europe have shown chinks in the ‘white’ armour.
No Clásico is ever complete without the mention of Cristiano Ronaldo, a player who is supposed to be in decline. If decline means topping the La Liga charts with 10 goals from as many matches. The Portuguese sensation along with Karim Benzema will lead the line for Los Blancos in the absence of Gareth Bale.
The Welsh winger is injured. So is Toni Kroos. The absence of the two will be keenly felt and could prove telling come Saturday.
Super Stat: Goals are a virtual guarantee in El Classico, as the last 0-0 draw was way back in November of 2002!