Real Madrid v Barca preview
Messi & Ronaldo meet in Spanish title showdown
Last Updated: 10/04/10 8:29pm
El Clasico: Fierce rivalry
Real Madrid meet Barcelona this weekend in one of the most eagerly anticipated games in the history of El Clasico.
8.30pm, Sat, Sky Sports HD1, Sky Sports 1 and online with Sky Player
Click here to remote record SKY BET ODDS Barcelona are 13/8 to win El Clasico, with star man Lionel Messi 25/1 to score another hat-trick. Click here for all markets.
El Clasico is always one of the biggest clashes in world football and the stakes are high at El Santiago Bernabeu with the outcome of the game possibly going a long way to deciding the destination of the Primera Division title with just eight games left in the campaign
The two arch-rivals are locked on 77 points at the top of La Liga with Real Madrid on top courtesy of goal difference, but a draw would be good enough to send Barca to the summit because of their head-to-head record having won at Camp Nou 1-0 earlier this season.
Barcelona have won the last three El Clasico showdowns, including their memorable 6-2 success at the Bernabeu last season.
Real have won every one of their home league matches this season and have won their last 12 games on the spin, while Barcelona have won their last five matches in an eight-game unbeaten run.
The game is being billed as a showdown between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to see who is the best player on the planet, but there is a whole host of stars on either side.
Barcelona will travel to Madrid in high spirits after their midweek Champions League win over Arsenal, but they have to make do without their match-winner from their first meeting with Real as Zlatan Ibrahimovic is ruled out with a calf problem.
Gerard Pique, who missed the Arsenal win through suspension, has recovered from a thigh problem and he will return in defence alongside Carles Puyol, who is also available after a ban in midweek.
Full-back Eric Abidal is missing for Pep Guardiola's side after limping off with a thigh problem against Arsenal, meaning Maxwell is set to deputise at left-back.
Andres Iniesta could return to the starting line-up after proving his fitness as a late substitite in midweek, but Thierry Henry is likely to have content himself with a place on the bench.
Real will be without one of their mega summer signings as Brazilian star Kaka has failed to recover from a thigh problem.
Former Liverpool man Xabi Alonso is doubtful for Real as he tries to shake off a muscle injury.
Alonso's team-mate Alvaro Arbeloa could be given the unenviable task of trying to keep the electric Messi quiet having enjoyed success against the schemer in the past.
Real will look to in-form Gonzalo Higuain to lead their attack with the Argentine ace bagging eight goals in his last five games.
Rosyton Drenthe has returned to full training, but he is set to start on the bench alongside Karim Benzema who has also recently returned to fitness.
Spanish Primera BBVA
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