Real Madrid vs Barcelona: La Liga match preview

A look ahead to this weekend's El Clasico fixture at Santiago Bernabeu

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The Independent Online

El Clasico has been branded by many to be the biggest game in club football. Whether you adhere to this belief or not, no one can ignore the illustrious line up of talent that this fixture has to offer.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has confirmed that summer signing Luis Suarez will feature for the Catalan club, adding further intrigue to the already tantalising showdown.

After eight games, Barcelona are sitting top of La Liga, already four points ahead of rivals Real. Ancelotti’s Madrid know they can’t afford to allow Lionel Messi and friends to extend their lead at the top, even at this early stage in the season. Both teams go into the game on a fantastic run of form with excellent scoring statistics to match. Barcelona have scored twenty-two goals in the league this campaign and are yet to concede a goal, whereas Madrid have registered a staggering thirty times whilst conceding nine at the other end.

Real’s attacking options include Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, James Rodriquez and Bale if fit, and Barcelona will have their work cut out if they hope to maintain their impressive run of clean sheets. However, the visitors have their own set of superstars which would strike fear into any back line. Messi, Neymar and new boy Suarez will give a Madrid defence, which has drawn criticism this year, plenty to think about.

Many will see this fixture as another opportunity to compare the footballing brilliance of Ronaldo and Messi, hoping to come to a conclusive decision on who reigns supreme. However, with the inclusion of a certain Luis Suarez, the fixture promises to produce an enthralling encounter between two powerhouses of European football instead of just two superstars. The stage is set.

KICK-OFF: Saturday, 5pm

PAST THREE MEETINGS…

Barcelona 1 (Bartra) Real Madrid 2 (Di Maria, Bale), Copa Del Rey, April 2014

Real Madrid 3 (Benzema 2, Ronaldo) Barcelona 4 (Iniesta, Messi 3), La Liga, March 2014

Barcelona 2 (Neymar, Sanchez) Real Madrid 1 (Jese), La Liga, October 2013

STATS…

In the team’s last three meetings there have been ten different scorers.

You have to go back to 2002 to find the last time Real and Barcelona shared a goalless draw.

Messi has played in twenty-eight El Clasico’s, scoring twenty-one goals.

It is estimated that there will be a worldwide television audience of around 400 million.

Ronaldo has already scored three hat-tricks this season.

Barcelona fans have only been allocated 500 tickets for their away fixture. The Bernabeu holds 81,044.

ODDS…

Real Madrid to win: 2.37

Barcelona to win: 3.0

Draw: 3.6

CLASSIC MOMENT/MATCH

The last time the two sides met in the league Barcelona came away 4-3 winners at the Bernabeu. Iniesta put Barcelona into the lead early in the match before a two goal brace from Benzema put Madrid in front. Messi drew the Catalan club level just before half time and then three second half penalties, two for Messi and one for Ronaldo, concluded the scoring. Ramos also saw red mid-way through the second half.

TV: Live on Sky Sports 5 at 5pm

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