Real Madrid v Barcelona special

  • By: Nick Hext
  • Last Updated: March 23 2014, 19:25 GMT

Real Madrid host Barcelona in the second El Clasico of the season on Sunday night. Check out our big match special!

  • Gareth Bale will look to shine when Real Madrid host Barcelona
  • Barca won the first Primera Division meeting of the season between the sides 
  • Michael Owen enjoyed his El Clasico moment in 2005 

Overview

This is the biggest match in world football and the stakes are as high as ever when the latest encounter between the old rivals gets started at 2000 GMT on Sunday night. Real Madrid top the Spanish Primera Division by three points from city rivals Atletico ahead of the weekend's matches with Barca just one point further back. Victory for Barca would put them once again at the heart of the title race and we may well end Sunday with the top three separated by just one point! The first meeting between the sides this season ended in a 2-1 victory to Barcelona - more on that later - so Real will be desperate to prove their dominance on the big stage. Carlo Ancelotti has Los Blancos in contention to win the treble. They have joined Barca in the Champions League quarter-finals and also face the Nou Camp club in the Copa del Rey final. Barcelona of course have the same ambition but recent results haven't been great with three defeats in their last seven matches. Now is the time for Gerardo Martino's side to really get going...

Team News

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti claims he knows his starting line-up for El Clasico. He has been hit by bad news this week though with forward Jese ruled out for the rest of his breakthrough season with a knee ligament injury. Gareth Bale was the man to replace Jese as a sub in midweek against Schalke and should get a spot in the first XI. Barcelona had all their big guns available for last weekend's 7-0 win over Osasuna. Neymar and Cesc Fabregas were on the bench for the victory and have their work cut out to get a starting spot.

Players to watch

Real Madrid - Gareth Bale

We all know the main focus will be on Cristiano Ronaldo but I'm going to give the nod from the Madrid angle to Wales' finest export - apologies to Sir Tom Jones. Bale is really making his mark at the Bernabeu and 15 goals from his matches for club and country so far this season is an impressive total. All kinds of pressure has come the forward's way since becoming the world's most expensive player but he's living with the hype and continues to get better.

Barcelona - Lionel Messi

I don't think anyone can be too shocked by this selection. Messi has once again produced magic moments during the current campaign despite a few injury worries and even surprise speculation over his Nou Camp future. The Argentina international is behind Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa in the domestic scoring stakes but remains Barcelona's star man. Messi has to be at his best if the visitors are to leave with three points.

Current form

Real Madrid

Schalke (home), Champions League - won 3-1
Malaga (away), Primera Division - won 1-0
Levante (home), Primera Division - won 3-0
Atletico Madrid (away), Primera Division - drew 2-2
Schalke (away), Champions League - won 6-1

Barcelona

Osasuna (home), Primera Division - won 7-0
Manchester City (home), Champions League - won 2-1
Valladolid (away), Primera Division - lost 1-0
Almeria (home), Primera Division - won 4-1
Real Sociedad (away), Primera Division - won 3-1

Last meeting

Barcelona 2 Real Madrid 1 in the Primera Division on October 26, 2013

Neymar and Alexis Sanchez got the goals for Barcelona in a 2-1 win that saw them move six points ahead of Real at the top of the table. Neymar opened the scoring in the 18th minute and then provided substitute Alexis with a pass which the Chilean lobbed over Diego Lopez to finish off the visitors with 12 minutes remaining. Jese struck for Madrid very late on, but there was not enough time left for an equaliser.

Do you remember?

Real Madrid - Michael Owen

Owen's time at Real isn't the most memorable of his career but he did enjoy one magic El Clasico moment. The England international netted the final goal in the 4-2 victory over Barca back in April 2005 to put a bit of life back in their title challenge. It wasn't enough to claim top spot when the campaign ended and that was when Owen's time at Real ended. After 18 goals in 41 games he moved to Newcastle following just one season in Spain.

Barcelona - Gary Lineker

Lineker made over 100 appearances for Barca during his time at the Nou Camp between 1986 and 1989 but there's one El Clasico clash that stands out above all others for the striker. The Match Of The Day presenter made his mark with a sensational hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Real during his first season at the club. That campaign finished with 21 goals from 41 games for Lineker before he lifted the Copa del Rey and Cup Winners' Cup in the two seasons prior to his move to Tottenham.

Betting

Real Madrid are the 6/5 favourites with Sky Bet to claim victory. Barcelona can be backed at 21/10 and the draw is available at 5/2.

Sky Bet's Price Boosts are: Gareth Bale to score first at 7/1 from 13/2, Neymar to score first at 8/1 from 7/1, Real Madrid to win 3-1 at 16/1 from 14/1 and Barcelona to win 2-1 at 11/1 from 10/1.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the 3/1 favourite to score first. Lionel Messi is next in the betting at 7/2.

Videos

Check out the highlights of the season's first El Clasico clash from back in October

Gaizka Mendieta, Graham Hunter and Guillem Balague analyse the predicted Real Madrid and Barcelona line-ups

Guillem Balague takes a look at the main stories in the build up to El Clasico

Sky Sports are ready for Sunday's big match

The verdict

A draw on Sunday night would leave all still to play for in the Primera Division and that's the outcome I'm banking on. Real retain the advantage in the title race if they claim a point and Barcelona know time is just about on their side to reach the summit. Atletico Madrid will of course have something to say on that matter as well. Sky Bet's 4/1 for the draw and under 2.5 goals looks the way to go.


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