Barcelona - Real Madrid Preview: Los Merengues visit Camp Nou with title hopes in the balance
Jose Mourinho's side will be desperate to hand a first Liga defeat to their great rivals as they brace for a highly-charged Clasico meeting in the Catalan capital
By Karthick Arvinth
Alves, Song, Mascherano, Adriano
Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta
Pedro, Messi, Sanchez
Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo
Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo
|STEVE MCMANAMAN ON EL CLASICO
|From comment and analysis to post-match fallout, Goal.com has got all angles covered|
Barcelona will assess Gerard Pique's fitness ahead of Sunday's Primera Division showdown with Real Madrid at Camp Nou.
The Spain defender has not played for two weeks because of a foot injury but managed to train in the gym on Friday.
Carles Puyol (elbow) and Thiago Alcantara (knee) are ruled out, meaning converted midfielders Alex Song and Javier Mascherano are likely to resume their partnership in central defence.
Sami Khedira and Angel Di Maria are set to return to the starting line-up for Real Madrid, who have no injury concerns.
The biggest selection dilemma for boss Jose Mourinho is likely to be over the playmaker role, with Mesut Ozil, Luka Modric, Kaka and Michael Essien all vying for a starting berth.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Barcelona are facing Real Madrid for the 222nd time in all competitions. The Catalans have 87 wins to Real's 88.
- The Blaugrana have won their last six matches across all competitions since losing 2-1 to Madrid in the Supercopa.
- Should Barca win on Sunday, it will represent their best ever start to a Liga campaign.
- Alexis Sanchez (pictured right) is in line to make his 50th appearance for the Catalan outfit.
- Real Madrid have lost three of their last five away matches in all competitions.
- The Castilian giants have won just one of their last eight Liga encounters with Barcelona (W1, D1, L6).
- Jose Mourinho's record against Barcelona with Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid is W6, D7, L10. The 10 defeats against Barca are the most against any club in Mourinho's managerial career.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 12 goals across all competitions this season, two more than Barca talisman Lionel Messi.
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Top 3 Predictions
FC Barcelona 3-1 Real Madrid CF
- 16.49 %
FC Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid CF
- 15.54 %
FC Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid CF
- 12.55 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Mar 2, 2013||Real Madrid CF 2 - FC Barcelona 1|
|Spain - Copa del Rey (ESPC)||Feb 26, 2013||FC Barcelona 1 - Real Madrid CF 3|
|Spain - Copa del Rey (ESPC)||Jan 30, 2013||Real Madrid CF 1 - FC Barcelona 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Oct 7, 2012||FC Barcelona 2 - Real Madrid CF 2|
|Spain - Super Cup (ESPS)||Aug 29, 2012||Real Madrid CF 2 - FC Barcelona 1|
|Jun 1, 2013||FC Barcelona 4 - Malaga 1||LIGA|
|May 26, 2013||Espanyol 0 - FC Barcelona 2||LIGA|
|May 19, 2013||FC Barcelona 2 - Valladolid 1||LIGA|
|May 12, 2013||Atletico Madrid 1 - FC Barcelona 2||LIGA|
|May 5, 2013||FC Barcelona 4 - Betis 2||LIGA|
|Returns:||Barcelona £95.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Draw £37.50||Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|Returns:||Real Madrid £170.00||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|22||Ángel Di María||Midfielder|
|18||Raúl Albiol Tortajada||Defender|
The Argentine was an ever-present threat in the Champions League on Tuesday, setting up goals for Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas in the 2-0 win at Benfica. Barcelona will need Messi to keep the action firmly in the Real Madrid half and prevent an understrength rearguard from coming under close scrutiny at the hands of the visitors.
Madrid's powerhouse striker comes into this clash on the back of two consecutive hat-tricks against Deportivo La Coruna and Ajax respectively. The scourge of Barcelona in April when he scored the winning goal in this fixture last season, Ronaldo will again look to take command of this fixture.
Barcelona's first home Clasico since last month's Catalan independence rally promises an evening of raw emotion. Tito Vilanova will hope the cauldron of support at Camp Nou can drive his team over the line, while Madrid will hope for a repeat of their scintillating performance in the Supercopa win at the Bernabeu, where Barca's defence was horribly exposed by a flurry of lightning quick attacks.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed