IN-FORM Real Madrid will tomorrow further woes of Barcelona as they continues their stranglehold on the Laliga top spot in a decisive El Clasico encounter.
For coach Zidane, this El Clasico is aimed at confirming their supremacy over rivals Barcelona as his game could very well decide the race for the La Liga title this season. Both teams are currently very close on the table with Real Madrid still having one game at hand against Celta de Vigo at Balaidos.
Real Madrid managed to get a 1-1 draw when they visited the Camp Nou last December.
In that game, Sergio Ramos scored the equaliser late and that gave the Los Blancos a valuable point after a solid performance.
Going into tomorrow’s epic encounter, Barcelona will need a 2-2 draw or at best an away win at the Bernabeu if they want to have a potential tie-breaker lead if both teams finish even on points when La Liga ends.
The Luis Enrique side are three points behind Real Madrid having played a game more than their rivals, but a victory at the Bernabeu would certainly make things interesting.
In fact, it would send them top of the table with a superior head-to-head record, putting Real Madrid under real pressure to win their game in hand against Celta Vigo.
In order for that to happen, however, Barcelona will need to drastically improve their abysmal record in big away games this season.
They were beaten 3-1 by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the campaign, and their heavy defeats at Paris St Germain and Juventus in the UEFA champions league are also fresh in the memory of their fans. In La Liga, there was also the 2-0 defeat at Malaga after Madrid had dropped points last weekend.
In other words, Barcelona simply has not been competitive when it matters, a sign of a team that needs a new impetus.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, has made a habit of rising to the big occasions – a trait which is typified by Cristiano Ronaldo.
His total of 28 goals in 37 appearances is modest by his standards, but he is producing more one-touch finishes, he is shooting more frequently from inside the box, and he is also patient enough to wait for the ball to reach him in dangerous positions.
He was the hero at the Allianz Arena when he scored both of Real Madrid’s goals in their 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League. He repeated the feat in the second leg at Santaigo Bernabeu, scoring a hat-trick which sent his side into the next stage of the championship with a 6-3 aggregate.
And back in November, when Madrid travelled to the Vicente Calderon to face Atletico, he fired a memorable hat-trick to seal an important 3-0 win. Another big game, another big performance.
No doubt, Madrid will come into tomorrow’s game in far better form than their rivals.
The Zinedine Zidane – tutored side were held to a draw by Atletico in their last home fixture, but they have won eight of their last 10 games in all competitions and drawn the other two.
Barcelona, meanwhile, have endured their toughest period of the season. In fact, they have lost as many games in the last five weeks as Madrid have lost in the entire season.
As always with Barca, a lot will depend on Lionel Messi. The Argentine has received criticism for some of his performances in big games recently. But he has not been helped by the team and their tactics.
With two goals and an assist against Real Sociedad last Saturday, Messi has now scored 45 times in 44 games this season and registered 14 assists. If he can add to those numbers at the Bernabeu, Barcelona will certainly stand a chance.