Barcelona, v Real Madrid, Nou Camp, 7pm (live on Sky Sports 1)

THERE'S a peculiarity to  La Liga. Real Madrid, one of the greatest clubs in existence, top the table. Jose Mourinho, a man who excels in simply getting the job done, by hook or by crook, has taken them against the strength of popular opinion to the summit.

Yet, there's a feeling – regardless of the dropped points and squeaky form – that it would always come down to the next 90 minutes.

Tonight's game could decide the title – if Barcelona win, a once-10 point lead is cut to a single point. If Madrid come out victorious or hold out for a draw they'll all but secure the crown for the first time in three years, with even Barcelona admitting as much.

The Form:

  • Despite defeat to Chelsea in midweek, Barca are unbeaten in seven league games against their greatest rivals, winning six and drawing one – their best ever run against  (W6 D1), their best-ever run Clasico run.
  • In the last three Liga meetings with Real at the Nou Camp, Barca have netted eight goals and conceded none. They're also on an 11-match winning streak that has seen them grab 33 goals.
  • Real Madrid are unbeaten in 18 league games, the club's longest single season run since the 1996-97 term, where they managed 24.
  • It's also worth noting that despite only winning one Clasico since his arrival (last year's Copa del Rey Final) Mourinho’s side are still a major threat and are the highest-scoring away side in Europe’s top-five leagues this season with 44 goals – Cristiano Ronaldo has 20 of those and is leading contender to find the net again tonight.
  • Lionel Messi has scored in 10 consecutive league games, no Barcelona player has ever scored in 11 in a row. He could break history tonight and there are few better occasions to hail a landmark moment.
  • Madrid's Sergio Ramos seen more cards in games against Barcelona (seven yellows, one red) than any other side in the league. He's my top tip to pick up another booking – and check odds for his dismissal.

The Teams:

Barca's Chilean attacker Alexis Sanchez is expected to recover from a knock to his thigh while defender Gerard Pique should make his return to the back four after sitting out the Champions League semi-final defeat in London.

Real Madrid have Xabi Alonso available after a ban but remain without Ricardo Carvalho (thigh problem) and Lass Diarra.





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