Sergio Ramos v Neymar: The key battle as Real Madrid host Barcelona in El Clasico
By Oliver Francis
Last Updated: 21/11/15 4:36pm
Can Sergio Ramos use his El Clasico experience to contain La Liga's top scorer? We checked the stats...
On Saturday, Real Madrid will be looking to bounce back from their first League defeat of the season against Sevilla, but opponents don't get much tougher than table-toppers Barcelona.
It's the kind of occasion when a captain must step up and deliver. Ramos is a veteran of 30 El Clasicos and the Real Madrid stalwart will be hoping his experience will give him the edge when he comes face-to-face with in-form Barca ace Neymar.
No current Real Madrid player has been involved in more games against Barca than Ramos, who is now in his 11th season at the Bernabeu.
Ramos may have seen his game-time limited this season by a shoulder injury, but he remains an integral part of Los Blancos' defence when fit.
Most El Clasico apps - current Real Madrid squad
Having been named club captain by Rafael Benitez in July, the 29-year-old has been leading by example on the pitch, with more interceptions per game in La Liga this season than any other Real Madrid player. Only Raphael Varane has made more clearances per game than his captain in La Liga this season .
Most interceptions - Real Madrid
|Player||Interceptions per game|
Most clearances - Real Madrid
|Player||Clearances per game|
The one blot on Ramos' copybook during his career has been his discipline - he's been shown a staggering 19 red cards. But his behaviour has markedly improved in recent times - perhaps due to the added responsibility of captaincy - and he has only received two yellow cards in nine club appearances this season. Ramos' last red card came almost 20 months ago - against Barcelona in March 2014.
Neymar, Barcelona's joint-top scorer in all competitions this season with 13 goals, is a relative novice when it comes to El Clasico with only five appearances in this fixture, but the Brazilian will be hoping his superb goal-scoring form will lead Barcelona to victory.
In the absence of Lionel Messi due to a knee injury, Neymar has stepped up and is the current top scorer in La Liga this season with 11 goals. The 23-year-old has been involved in 14 league goals in total this season, including his three assists - two more than any other player.
Goal contributions - La Liga
|Luis Suarez (Barcelona)||9||3||12|
|Nolito (Celta Vigo)||7||4||11|
|Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)||8||2||10|
Creativity is also an important part of Neymar's game and Barcelona's No 11 has laid on more chances in La Liga than any other player this season.
Chances created - La Liga
|Nolito (Celta Vigo)||34|
|Luka Modric (Real Madrid)||24|
Neymar's form, coupled with that of Luis Suarez, who has also scored 13 goals in all competitions, has helped Barcelona continue a run of scoring in each of their last 25 league games, despite Messi's spell on the sidelines.
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Much of the talk prior to the game will undoubtedly centre on whether Messi will be fit to return, but it could be the battle between Real Madrid's captain and Barcelona's flamboyant South American star that decides who comes out on top in the 231st El Clasico.
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