By David Goulbourn

When: 2:45PM EST, Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Where: Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain

Betting Line: OFF

TV Coverage: beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS en Español

 

Real Madrid (23-6-2) welcome Barcelona (22-6-4) to the Bernabeu on Sunday in one of the biggest games in world football as the top 2 teams in Spain face off against each other in El Clasico. This game is one of the oldest rivalries in football and the games are always fiery encounters, so expect Sunday’s clash to be no different. The last time these 2 sides met was in December when a 90th minute goal from Sergio Ramos stole a point for Real Madrid in the Camp Nou after Luis Suarez had given Barcelona a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute.

Real Madrid come into this game sitting at the top of the La Liga standings, 3 points clear of Barcelona with a game in hand. Manager Zinedine Zidane knows that a win here on Sunday will all but assure his side of the La Liga crown and would move them 6 points clear with a game in hand with only 5 games left for Barcelona to play. Therefore, this is a must win game for Luis Enrique and his Barcelona side. If he does manage to win at the Bernabeu then the title race will be blown wide open as the teams will sit level on points with the pressure back on Real Madrid for their game in hand. Expect this to be a tense affair with crunching tackles and lots of histrionics as the best players in world football face off against each other. Who will emerge victorious from the battle of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi?

Barcelona

Barcelona come into this game on their worst run of the season with just 1 win in their last 4 games in all competitions. This week they were eliminated from the Champions League by Juventus after a 0-0 draw at Camp Nou saw them exit 3-0 on aggregate. Those games combined with the shock 2-0 loss to Malaga in La Liga have left Barcelona in all sorts of trouble and means that this game is now even bigger than before. Barcelona have struggled in big games away from home this season with losses to Juventus, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain already and Luis Enrique will be looking for an improvement here on Sunday. He will have to do it without Brazilian forward Neymar though who will miss the game through suspension.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid come into this game in imperious form with 4 wins and a draw from their last 5 games. They advanced in the Champions League this week after a 6-3 extra time victory against Bayern Munich in a game which turned after Arturo Vidal was sent off for the German club. Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed himself a hat-trick in the game as he continues to show that he is the man for the big occasions.

Key Points

1. Lionel Messi has played in 6 El Clasico matches without scoring after he scored a hat trick back in 2014.

2. Barcelona have scored in 22 consecutive games against Real Madrid in all competitions.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 16 goals in El Clasico games, only Alfredo Di Stefano and Lionel Messi have scored more times.

The Pick

This is a must win game for Barcelona, but Zinedine Zidane would take a draw here to keep Barcelona at arm's length and I think that is the most likely result on Sunday.

Real Madrid 1, Barcelona 1