The league table does not mean too much at this stage of the campaign, particularly as Barca have only played four times in La Liga this term due to their late start. A record of two wins, one draw and one defeat has seen the Catalan giants collect seven points, leaving them in ninth spot in the division at this stage, while Madrid are third with 10 points to show from their five fixtures.
Ronald Koeman's side made an impressive start to the season, recording back-to-back wins over Villarreal and Celta Vigo, scoring seven times in the process and conceding zero.
Barca were held to a 1-1 draw by Sevilla before the October international break, though, before suffering a 1-0 defeat away to Getafe last weekend. The one-goal loss was certainly a setback, but the team returned to winning ways in the Champions League on Tuesday, recording a thumping 5-1 victory over Ferencvaros.
Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele were all on the scoresheet in the European success, but there was no spot in the XI for Antoine Griezmann, and it would be fair to say that the Frenchman is still struggling to make his mark at Camp Nou.
Messi's performances were always going to be under the microscope this season, and the Argentine has actually only scored once in four La Liga appearances in 2020-21, but a record of two goals and three assists in five outings overall is an indication that he is still heavily contributing despite wanting to leave over the summer.
The team's star player has allegedly been impressed by Koeman's work on the training ground since the Dutchman's arrival, and it will be fascinating to see how the new head coach sets the team out against a Madrid side that have suffered poor results in their last two matches.
The games are coming thick and fast at this stage of the campaign, with Barca back in Champions League action away to Italian champions Juventus next week before ending the month away to Alaves in La Liga.
Last season's La Liga Clasico at Camp Nou ended in a goalless draw, but Madrid ran out 2-0 winners at the Bernabeu back in March. The title will not be won or lost this weekend, but there is simply no downplaying the importance of the contest as both sides look to respond to disappointing results last time out.
Madrid's form in the second half of the 2019-20 campaign was simply stunning; it allowed them to ultimately finish five points clear of Barca at the top of La Liga, wrestling the title away in the process.
Los Blancos only suffered three league defeats in the entirety of last season, but they were shocked at home by Cadiz last weekend, with Anthony Lozano scoring the only goal of the contest in the 16th minute.
The financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak meant that there were no signings over the summer, and there is huge pressure on the likes of Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos to lead the team this term. Contribution will have to arrive from elsewhere, but Eden Hazard's injury problems are likely to rule him out until the end of November, with the Belgium international having a hugely tough time since arriving.
Zinedine Zidane's team would have been looking to bounce back from the defeat to Cadiz when they welcomed a coronavirus-hit Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday night, but the capital giants were 3-0 down at half time and eventually suffered a 3-2 loss in their group opener.
There is simply no let-up for Madrid at the moment as they have a very difficult away game against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League next week before welcome Huesca in La Liga on October 31. The month of November then begins with a European clash at home to a dangerous Inter Milan.
El Clasico provides the perfect opportunity to kickstart their campaign, and Zidane insisted after the Shakhtar clash that he was capable of "fixing" the issues within the team.
Interestingly, Madrid's victory in the last Clasico was the first time that they had beaten Barca in the league since April 2016. Both clubs have suffered hugely with the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak but games between two of the biggest clubs in world football are always special.
It is difficult to predict exactly what will happen this season due to the unique circumstances surrounding the world of football, but it would be a huge surprise if Madrid and Barca were not first and second in the table come the end of the campaign. There are bound to be plenty of mistakes along the way, though, and it is set to be a fascinating 90 minutes of football on Saturday afternoon.
Barcelona La Liga form: WWDL
Barcelona form (all competitions): WWDLW
Real Madrid La Liga form: DWWWL
Real Madrid form (all competitions): DWWWLL
Samuel Umtiti is again expected to be absent with ongoing knee issues, but Jordi Alba could be back in the XI on Saturday, having trained with his teammates on Thursday as he looks to overcome a hamstring problem.
Whether Koeman feels that there is a risk starting the Spaniard remains to be seen, but the fact that he trained alongside his teammates two days before the game suggests that a return is a huge possibility; a spot on the bench looks to be the likely outcome, though, suggesting that Sergino Dest could again get the nod on the left.
Trincao was impressive in the European win, and the fact that he was withdrawn in the 63rd minute of the contest suggests that he will be used from the start against Madrid, particularly as Griezmann is still struggling to show his best form.
Club captain Ramos trained alone on Thursday as he builds to overcome the knee injury that forced him to miss out against Shakhtar, but the Spaniard is expected to be in the XI on Saturday afternoon.
Vinicius Junior, Toni Kroos and Benzema are all likely to come into the starting side following the Shakhtar clash, while Nacho could get the nod at right-back with Ferland Mendy moving across to left-back.
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Neto; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Dest; De Jong, Busquets; Fati, Coutinho, Trincao; Messi
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Nacho, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Vinicius, Benzema, Asensio
Head To Head
Saturday's clash will be the 182nd La Liga meeting between the two teams, and Madrid lead the head-to-head 73 wins to Barca's 72, with the remaining 36 games finishing all square.
In all, it will be the 245th clash between the Spanish giants, and they have incredibly recorded 96 victories each. As mentioned, the pair played out a goalless draw in the corresponding game last season, but Madrid ran out 2-0 winners at the Bernabeu back in March.
Madrid have not beaten Barca at Camp Nou in the league since April 2016, while Barca's last home La Liga victory over their bitter rivals came in October 2018.
We say: Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid
We are finding it incredibly difficult to separate the two sides on Saturday afternoon. A case can be made for either to pick up all three points, and Barca were impressive in the Champions League during the week. Koeman's side are still working their way into the new campaign, though, and we are expecting a tight and cagey affair to eventually finish 1-1, which would not be the worst result for either manager.