Barcelona v Real Madrid preview

Old rivalries are rekindled in El Clasico

Last Updated: 07/10/12 7:33am

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Messi & Ronaldo: Ready for derby day at Camp Nou

Messi & Ronaldo: Ready for derby day at Camp Nou

Sky Bet

Few fixtures in world football capture the imagination quite like a meeting between Barcelona and Real Madrid, and El Clasico returns on Sunday.

Two old adversaries will lock horns at Camp Nou in the latest instalment of a derby dual which continues to captivate a global audience - and you can catch all of the action live on Sky Sports 1 HD and in Sky 3D from 6.30pm.

Both sides compete under the weight of huge expectation, with Primera Liga title success demanded rather than longed for.

Real snatched the crown back last term, with a memorable victory on Catalan soil helping them to break Barca's domestic stranglehold.

Barca will be looking to exact revenge this weekend, with Tito Vilanova having helped them to the top of the table on the back of a bright start to his managerial career.

He will, however, be pitting his wits against a man widely regarded as the best in the business on Sunday, with Jose Mourinho determined to see Real defend their title.

He has been openly critical of his side at times this season, with Real already eight points adrift of Barca after just six games.

Victory in Catalunya would help to close that gap, but Barca will be aware that three points for them would leave Real with a lot of ground to make up.

Both teams picked up morale-boosting successes in the UEFA Champions League in midweek and will feel that they are entering derby day on top of their game.

Defensive headache

Barcelona have injury concerns to contend with, though, with Vilanova nursing a defensive headache.

Carles Puyol picked up a shoulder problem against Benfica on Tuesday and has joined centre-half partner Gerard Pique on the sidelines.

Javier Mascherano has adapted well since being slipped back from a midfield berth, but he has benefited from playing alongside more experienced men in that position.

On Sunday, it is likely that he will be paired with Alex Song, another who can operate at the back but is more at home in midfield.

Barca will be hoping that their makeshift defence enjoys a quiet night, meaning that forward-thinkers such as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi can dominate proceedings.

Attacking options

Real have plenty of attacking options of their own, though.

Cristiano Ronaldo remains in prolific form and will lead the away charge.

Mourinho could have a fully-fit squad at his disposal by the time Real arrive at Camp Nou, with Michael Essien the only slight doubt.

He must decide which creative talents to put his faith in, with Luka Modric settling well in Spain and former World Player of the Year Kaka offering glimpses of his best in recent weeks.

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