The Spanish title race could effectively be settled when Real Madrid welcome Barcelona for Sunday’s Clásico; UEFA.com reads the runes.
- Real Madrid are 72-68 ahead in Liga Clásicos, with 33 games drawn – including a 1-1 at Camp Nou in December
- In the last 12 Liga Clásicos, only one side has kept a clean sheet – Barcelona in their 4-0 victory at the Bernabéu in November 2015
- Top Liga scorers this season
Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo (19)
Barcelona: Lionel Messi (29)
- Messi has netted 14 times in 20 Liga games against Madrid, but he has not registered in the last five since getting a hat-trick in a 4-3 Bernabéu success in March 2014
- Messi needs two more goals to reach 500 for Barcelona
- Ronaldo has notched eight goals in 14 Liga meetings with Barcelona, including four in the last six
What’s at stake
- This is often the fixture that decides whether the Liga crown remains in the capital or heads to Catalonia, and this year is no exception. A Madrid win would move them six points clear of their title-holding rivals with a game in hand: a huge lead at this stage of the campaign.
- When Madrid triumphed 2-1 at the Camp Nou last April, they ended a 39-match unbeaten run for Barcelona, before surpassing it themselves earlier this term. Madrid have now scored in a Spanish-record 55 consecutive Liga games, but Luis Enrique’s men would love nothing more than to cut short that streak.
Joe Walker (@UEFAComJoeW), Real Madrid reporter
Madrid know that if they avoid defeat the title is all but theirs, but there will be a desire to take all three points and really kill off Barça’s championship challenge. Spirits will be high after Tuesday’s success against Bayern, but they need to beware the wounded animal. However, if they play as they have done of late, there should be no such problems.
Richard Martin (@UEFAComRichardM), Barcelona reporter
Barça’s pride has been hurt by their elimination by Juventus, but this match is one of their last chances at redeeming a difficult season and probably their last shot at defending the title. They showed signs of life on Wednesday and there can be no better motivation than trying to shoot down their biggest rivals.
Possible starting line-ups
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modrić; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo.
Out: Pepe (ribs), Varane (hamstring)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitić, Busquets, Iniesta; Alcácer Suárez, Messi.
Out: Rafinha (knee), Aleix Vidal (ankle), Neymar (suspended)
What to expect
- Madrid will be confident: they are into the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for a seventh successive campaign and are unbeaten in 12 matches.
- Barcelona may be less sharp: they have won just two of their last five games, and have had a day less to recover from their UEFA Champions League fixture.
- With Neymar suspended, Barcelona will need to rejig their front line, while Nacho will continue to deputise for the injured Pepe and Raphaël Varane.
What they say
“We’re playing for the league title. If we win, it’s a massive statement. Hopefully the atmosphere will be fantastic.”
Luka Modrić, Madrid midfielder
“It will be difficult to lift my players after [the UEFA Champions League exit], but it will be easy to motivate them. We have the best motivation any Barcelona fan could hope for. There’s no better place to go than the Bernabéu. We have the chance to get back in the fight for the Liga in a six-pointer against the current leaders.”
Luis Enrique, Barcelona coach