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El Clasico Review: Real Madrid Vs Barcelona

The first El Clasico of the La Liga season takes place at midday on Saturday, and it is one which could prove to be make-or-break for Real Madrid’s title hopes.

 The champions go into the match sitting fourth in the table and with 11 points separating them from leaders Barcelona, a gap which could stretch to a surely-unassailable 14 should they fall to a home defeat at the hands of their fiercest rivals.

Real Madrid do have a game in hand over Barca courtesy of their Club World Cup exploits, where they became the first team to win the trophy in back-to-back years, adding the world crown to their Spanish and European titles from earlier in the year.

Barcelona are well placed to take over at least one of those titles in 2018, though. Ernesto Valverde’s side are unbeaten in their last 24 matches across all competitions – including all 16 of their La Liga outings to help them into a six-point lead at the top of the table.

However, Madrid are the only team to have beaten Barcelona so far this season, doing so home and away in the Spanish Super Cup back in August.

Real Madrid’s recent resurgence has seen the former Manchester United man come to within two trophies of matching his illustrious rival.

Ronaldo already has three major honours the Spanish Super Cup, Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cup this season alone.

A much-needed victory here could provide the springboard for only a third La Liga title for the Portuguese superstar.

In terms of goals in this fixture, Messi is way out in front with 24 — six ahead second-place Alfredo Di Stefano and seven in front of Ronaldo.

It’s worth pointing Messi has featured in far more than his rival, having been in the first team five years before Real Madrid’s No 7 arrived in Spain.

This is one record that will definitely stand after this match. Surely.

Between them Ronaldo and Barca’s Luis Suarez had a pitiful return of a combined four goals in La Liga until mid-November as age appeared to be taking hold of both now in their 30s.

However, Ronaldo and Suarez now look like their old selves to add plenty more firepower to a fixture never short on goals.

Ronaldo has eight in his last seven games, including the winner in the Club World Cup final last weekend.

Suarez, meanwhile is now La Liga’s joint third highest scorer thanks to six in his last five league games.

Barcelona have won on their last two La Liga trips to the Bernabeu, though, including a memorable 3-2 triumph in April when Lionel Messi scored a stoppage-time winner with his 500th Barca goal.

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