New Delhi: Much awaited football game of La Liga, El Clasico, a clash between titans Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona, is around the corner and it is once again expected to be one of the most watched matches in the season. It will be a must-win game for Cristiano Ronaldo’s Los Blancos to keep their title defense alive. On the other hand, Lionel Messi’s Barcelona will aim to dominate the Spanish league as they are currently leading the chart with 42 points after 16 games and victory will see them extend the lead over fourth-placed Real by 14 points.

Ahead of the exciting clash, Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic, in an interview made available to India.com, spoke about the threat Real Madrid possess and revealed that he doesn’t want to go one-on-one against Sergio Ramos. “There are really strong players in defence in the Real Madrid line-up. But maybe, it is Sergio Ramos because he’s a really strong defender with a lot of experience and he knows how to read situations well during the game. He’s also the captain,” said Rakitic.

The 29-year old also believes that Real’s attacking strategy is different from Barcelona and it’s not easy to defend against the Zinedine Zidane’s team. Ivan said, “Real’s idea of attacking is a little different from ours (FC Barcelona). They create a lot of space and with the space, it becomes really hard to defend against them.”

When asked which Real Madrid player he doesn’t want to be defending one-on-one, Rakitic picked Gareth Bale.

“Gareth Bale is hard because he’s really fast and his idea is really clear, getting towards the closest lines of the opponent goal, which makes it difficult to play against him,” said the Croat.

Rakitic also believes that with three players from Croatia featuring in one of the biggest game in club football, the popularity of El Clasico has significantly increased in the country.

“Yeah, it (El Clasico) is really popular. The people there have just been speaking about this big game since last Tuesday and it is not common for a country like Croatia to have such great interest in a game. There are already three (Croatian) players and I would just like to thank everybody who will support Barcelona and bad luck to the ones who won’t (smiles). Hopefully, in the next few years, we will have more players from Croatia (in LaLiga).

The EL Clasico will take place on December 23 and LaLiga, considering the time preferences of Indian audiences, has scheduled the match at a prime-time slot of 5.30 pm IST. La Liga is also organising the official screening of the mega clash and it will take place at NSIC Grounds, Okhla in New Delhi. Italian defender and former Barcelona player Gianluca Zambrotta will also mark his presence in the event.