Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
March 23, 2014; 20:00 GMT
This game is very important for Barcelona as they travel to Santiago Bernabeu looking to upset the Los Blancos and announce themselves back into the title race. However, a defeat would mean that the Catalans are out of the title race.
For Real Madrid, it will be an under pressure game as they lead the points table and they would certainly like to avenge for the loss in the November 2013, when the two sides met in the league.
Team news and tactics
Real Madrid take on Barcelona knowing a victory could create a seven-point gap between the title chasers and the third-placed Catalan club.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men hold a three-point gap over second-placed rivals Atletico Madrid, and they are hunting a 10th consecutive home win at the Bernabeu. If Real Madrid are to bag the league title, they will have to hope Ronaldo keeps himself in the goals. The Portuguese winger currently leads the La Liga top-scorers list with 25 strikes.
Ronaldo and Co. know that they can move a giant step closer to the title with a win over Barcelona, but they must still square off against Atletico on the final day of the season. The forward has scored in his last three league matches—and his last six in all competitions.
Record-signing Gareth Bale has also been impressive so far at Santiago Bernabeu. He has scored 14 goals and has provided 14 assists to his team mates in 27 appearances. His stay at Real Madrid has been marked with series of injuries but seems to be fit and fine and has been able to take the centre stage along with Ronaldo.
“I am enjoying my game,” he said. “We are playing well, with a lot of confidence, and are on a good run. We’re coming to a decisive part of the season and we have to keep it going.
“Barcelona is a direct rival and we will try to play a good match and get the three points.
“They have very good players but we are focused on our game and on our team because we also have very good players.” Said the former Tottenham player.
On the injury front, Karim Benzema is likely to remain out with a hamstring injury he suffered against Levante while Jese Rodriguez also ruptured his Anterior Cruciate Ligament in the champions league tie against Schalke.
Alvaro Morata could likely start this one for Los Blancos as Carlo Ancelloti will look to attack the Catalans.
Expected starting line-up (4-3-3): Lopez; Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Modric, Xabi Alonso, Di Maria; Bale, Morata, Ronaldo.
Barcelona’s 7-0 rout of Osasuna was just their third league win in the last five matches. In that game against Osasuna, Messi scored a hat-trick which suggests he is gearing to perform well against Real Madrid and see his team to a win. With that hat-trick against Osasuna, Messi became the all-time leading goal scorer for Barcelona with 371 goals, breaking the clubs record previously held by Paulino Alcantara.
A horror spell of defeats against Real Sociedad and Valladolid has put a dent in the club’s title hopes and another against Madrid would surely leave them out of the reckoning. However, Champions League victory over Manchester City and the seven-goal haul at Camp Nou has helped to restore belief.
And Lionel Messi will be eyeing to overtake Alfredo de Stefano’s record of being all time top scorer in El Classico which is tied up at 18 goals between the two Argentinians.
“We hope we can play a great game,” “We know it will be difficult, but we will do all we can to fight for the league title until the very end.” Messi said about Sunday’s El Classico clash.
Barcelona need to record victory at the Bernabeu to not only close the gap on Real but also put them level with Atletico. The second-placed club take on bottom-of-the-table Real Betis next time out.
Barcelona have some niggling concerns over the fitness of Gerard Pique and captain Carlos Puyol who both are doubtful for the clash. But nonetheless, the former is expected to start for the Catalans.
Expected starting line-up (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi, Busquetes, Iniesta; lexis, Messi, Fabrigas.
Players to watch-out for
Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
The Portuguese superstar is in form of his life at the moment and expected to cause a big headache for Barca defence.
Messi (FC Barcelona)
The Argentine superstar had some serious injury woes at the start of this year but seems to have overcome it which is visible from his recent excellent performances. Messi scored stunning hatrick against Osasuna in Barca’s last league game and fans will be expecting a similar performance from him on Sunday.
- At the Bernabeu, home ground of Real Madrid, records are in Madrid’s favour, winning 51 and losing only 17.
- However, if we look at all the games played between the two side, Real have beaten Barcelona 70 times in La Liga, losing 65 encounters. Another 32 have been drawn.
- There have been two red cards in the last six meetings of these two and 28 yellow cards.
- Last five league matches have seen Real Madrid win two, Barcelona triumph twice and one draw.
Real Madrid 2-2 FC Barcelona
The Classico as always will be a tight fought encounter. With the attackers of both the sides in fine form, high scoring game is expected. However, looking at the current strength of both, a single team might not emerge as winner from this game.