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Talking points ahead of the festive El Clasico

Barcelona host Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Will Gareth Bale make an impact for Real Madrid? (Nick Potts/PA)
Will Gareth Bale make an impact for Real Madrid? (Nick Potts/PA)

By PA Sport Staff

Barcelona and Real Madrid face-off in a festive El Clasico on Wednesday.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the talking points ahead of the game.

Heading to Christmas number one

Approaching the halfway point of the season the two sides are locked together at the top of the La Liga table on 35 points, with Barcelona assuming the top position with a slightly better goal difference. So the top spot heading towards Christmas is up for grabs at the Nou Camp, with a final round of games before the winter break to come at the weekend.

Awkward hotel lunch?

This game was originally supposed to be played in October but it was postponed due to safety fears surrounding the violent protests in Catalonia. Those concerns remain, and with more protests planned, it was confirmed that both teams would be at the Nou Camp two hours before kick-off on Wednesday and will make the journey at the same time, having shared the same hotel pre-match. Madrid will join their hosts in the Hotel Princesa Sofia close to the ground.

Madrid out for revenge

Recent memories of travelling to the Nou Camp are not good for Madrid, as it is just over a year since they lost 5-1 in La Liga – a result that ended the reign of manager Julen Lopetegui. Barca did not need Lionel Messi that night as Luis Suarez’s hat-trick did the damage and left Los Blancos embarrassed. They have won just one league game in this stadium since 2012 – three years ago – and will be looking to put that round and gain revenge.

Gareth lost his bottle?

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Wales’ Gareth Bale has been a controversial figure in Madrid (Nigel French/PA)

Gareth Bale has attracted more negative headlines this week after he was spotted taking on the ‘bottle flip challenge’ during Madrid’s 1-1 draw at Valencia on Sunday. The Wales international, whose spell at the Bernabeu looks to be coming to an end, is hardly endearing himself to the club’s fans in the wake of the ‘Wales, golf, Madrid in that order’ flag controversy. There are suggestions Zinedine Zidane could hand him a start at the Nou Camp. Is there one last big performance for Los Blancos left in the tank ahead of a possible exit next month?

PA

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