Why Iniesta, Luis Suarez, Paulinho are Trading Up for Barcelona ahead of El Clasico

Barcelona are fast approaching the game Cules around the world have been so eagerly awaiting: El Clasico against Real Madrid. With millions glued to their TV screens, Barca players are fully aware that their every move is going to be scrutinised, discussed and analysed to the highest possible degree.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has a weaker squad than the one at Luis Enrique's disposal last season, mainly due to the unexpected departure of Neymar in late August. However, the former Athletic Bilbao boss has added a degree of solidarity and collaboration that has turned the Camp Nou giants into a more consistent, solid unit that are still to be beaten in La Liga.

If Barca are currently leading the table with an 11 point advantage over Real Madrid, it is certainly thanks to Valverde's influence. The way in which his players have reacted to the many tweaks and new ideas introduced in the last five months is admirable and, going into El Clasico, there is no reason to doubt Barcelona have a great chance of taking the three points away from the Santiago Bernabeu.

In our latest The Barcelona Podcast, we discussed the three players who have a key role to play against Real Madrid on Saturday:

Paulinho - The Brazilian international was a controversial signing in the summer, with many at the Catalan capital doubting his ability to succeed at a major club like Barcelona. His six goals and two assists to date in La Liga prove that, although he is certainly not your traditional Blaugrana midfielder, Paulinho does add a much-needed degree of dynamism, physicality and always being at the right place at the right time in front of goal.

Luis Suarez - The No.9 has been at the receiving end of severe criticism this season and, for the most part, it has been fully deserved. Often clumsy in front of goal and clearly far from his best shape, many doubted the Uruguayan star could return to his former best at Barcelona. Luckily for Cules, Suarez seems to have his confidence back and, crucially, his finishing is slowly but surely returning to what it once was: A deadly weapon the current Barca can simply not do without.

Andres Iniesta - At 33 years old, most footballers are in the middle of an inevitable decline and desperately in search of their last great contract. Not Don Andres. Still an indispensable piece of Barcelona's midfield puzzle, El Capitan is still dominating games with his fantastic skill and enviable vision. Having been rested by Valverde throughout the season, Iniesta is certainly ready to dominate El Clasico at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
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