Real Madrid plan all-out assault on Barcelona

AFP, Friday 9 Dec 2011

Real Madrid will take the fight to their fierce rivals Barcelona on Saturday, fielding three strikers in an aggressive 4-3-3 formation for the first clasico of the season, the club said

Real Madrid technical staff

Assistant coach Aitor Karanka told a news conference Friday that Real will play prolific Portuguese goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo up front alongside Angel di Maria and either Gonzalo Higuain or Karim Benzema.

"It is not just a match like any other. Obviously it is different," Karanka said of the biggest match in the league.

"But we are not going to change our way of working whatever the result is tomorrow."

Barca have generally come out on top in direct clashes between the arch rivals since the arrival of Pep Guardiola as coach in 2008, including a humiliating 5-0 pasting of Real a year ago in Barcelona.

Real go into this season's first clasico with a three-point lead at the top of the league and a game in hand, looking for their 16th consecutive victory in all competitions.

Karanka forestalled any complacency, however.

"We could have a lead of four, six or nine points, that would not change our principles," he said. "We have to go after the three points like we always do."

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho will have a full squad to choose from save for Portuguese fullback Ricardo Carvalho for the game.

The club said Carvalho has pulled a ligament in his right knee and will be unavailable.

Also plagued with back problems this season, former Porto and Chelsea man Carvalho has not played for two months.

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