There are eight rounds left in La Liga and Real Madrid and Barcelona are locked together at the top on 77 points, 21 clear of third placed Valencia. So, whoever comes out on top in Saturday’s El Clasico at the Bernabeu will be odds-on favourites to take the title.
After his virtuoso display against Arsenal in midweek, it’s hardly surprising that much of the media attention in the build up to the game has been focussed on Lionel Messi. Experts have been queuing up this week to label him as the greatest footballer on earth but such is the quality in both sides, that this is bound to be much more than a one man show.
Indeed, Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo, himself the World and European Footballer of the Year in 2008, says there is much more to the match than a meeting between the pair. Speaking to the press ahead of the game, the former Manchester United player said:
Messi and I are not the only players who will be playing and this is not an individual game.
It is a great match, a very special one. But it will not be the first nor the last we play. I want to win so that we stay ahead of them in the table.
I don’t have anything against Barcelona and we are the best teams in the championship. May the best team win and that team be Real Madrid.
Certainly, if the match lives up to the two previous league meetings in Madrid, it could be a cracker. Back in May 2008, Real had already wrapped up the title and they celebrated by hammering Barcelona 4 – 1. But with the roles reversed last season, Barca took Real apart during a 6 – 2 victory on their way to the title.
However, Barca defender Gerard Pique is not expecting a repeat of that performance this time round saying:
Last year’s game was amazing, I’ll never forget it.
The memories and emotions are still very recent, but the scoreline is unrepeatable this time. However, we do hope to do our talking on the pitch.