Hassan Chamas

What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Real Madrid (1st; 77 points) vs Barcelona (2nd; 77 points)
When: Saturday 10th April, 2010, at 22:00 CET
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain

Box of Memories

It’s that time of year again when the planets align and the world prepares to watch club football’s most epic match: the Spanish Clasico. Level on points, Real Madrid host Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu in what appears to be this season’s 90-minute decider.

Ever since the corresponding loss at the Camp Nou last November, Real Madrid have been  drastically improving, finally topping the charts some weeks ago, albeit on goal difference. Playing on their own turf this time around, Los Merengues will be counting on their 100% league record, looking to make sure not to repeat the 6-2 annihilation to which they succumbed approximately a year ago.

Out of their beloved Champions League again this term, La Liga constitutes Madrid’s last chance to ensure that a quarter of a billion Euros did not go to waste this past summer. Equipped with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, Los Blancos perhaps even surpass their perennial foes based on individual talent alone. However, teamwork will be the deciding factor this Saturday.

Four-Star Form

For their part, Barcelona enter this edition of El Clasico following a tremendous midweek win over Arsenal in the Champions League. Nicklas Bendtner opened the scoring for the guests, but the Blaugrana quickly reacted through none other than the world’s best player on current form, Lionel Messi.

Four magical moments by “Little Leo” were more than enough for Pep Guardiola’s team to brush aside The Gunners. On a magnificent run now, the reigning champions can solely focus on their weekend clash with Real Madrid, knowing that a draw at the very least could see them top the table.

With Lionel Messi on another level and Xavi Hernandez as sharp and crisp as ever, Barcelona go into Spain's biggest derby in high spirits, and as bookies’ favourites. However, should they take their foot off the gas as they have a few times this season, things might get out of control for the sextuple champions, as they will be found running after the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo all over the pitch.

Recent form

Real Madrid:
Getafe 2-4 Real Madrid (25/03; La Liga)
Real Madrid 3-2 Atletico Madrid (28/03; La Liga)
Racing Santander 0-2 Real Madrid (04/04; La Liga)

Arsenal 2-2 Barcelona (31/03; Champions League)
Barcelona 4-1 Athletic Bilbao (03/04; La Liga)
Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal (06/04; Champions League)

Key absences

Real Madrid: Kaka (doubt); Royston Drenthe; Pepe

Barcelona: Gerard Pique (doubt); Zlatan Ibrahimovic (doubt); Eric Abidal (doubt)

Players to watch

Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo: Having produced a stellar first season so far, the memory of his crucial miss at the Camp Nou remains a daunting one for the former Manchester United star. Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking for revenge this time around, and should he be on top form, he could prove to be unplayable for Barcelona.

Barcelona – Lionel Messi: Fully capable of matching and perhaps surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo is Leo Messi. The Argentinean has enjoyed perhaps his best run of form ever these past couple of weeks, and after smashing four past Arsenal’s Manuel Almunia, will try his best to make sure the fans at home go to bed happy.

Match prediction

Tied on points, this Clasico could potentially be the best in recent memory. Real Madrid hold their formidable home record, and are smart enough not to repeat last year’s abysmal display, while Barcelona have prepared for this by thrashing Athletic Bilbao and Arsenal. A 2-2 draw seems to be a likely outcome.

Fancy a bet on this exciting game? Remember, you can find and compare the prices of all major online bookmakers on tip-ex.com.


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