Zinedine Zidane’s men can take a huge step towards being crowned Spanish champions on Sunday by beating their fierce rivals at the Santiago Bernabeu
Real Madrid host Barcelona in the latest Clasico on Sunday knowing that a victory will represent a huge step towards securing a first Spanish title since 2011-12.
Zinedine Zidane’s team are three points clear of Barca with a game in hand going into the clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.
They could be without Gareth Bale when Lionel Messi and Co. come to town, but Luis Enrique will have to mastermind a victory despite the absence of the suspended Neymar.
WHEN IS EL CLASICO?
|Game||Real Madrid vs Barcelona|
|Date||Sunday, April 23, 2017|
|Time||19:45 GMT, 14:45 ET|
|Venue||Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid|
EL CLASICO TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
In the UK, the match will be available to watch live on television on Sky Sports 1. With a subscription to Sky Sports, you can also watch an online stream the game for free via Sky Go.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Sky Sports 1||Sky Go|
In the US, the match will be available to watch live on television on beIN Sports. With a subscription to beIN Sports Connect or FuboTV, you can also watch an online stream
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIN Sports||beIN Sports Connect / FuboTV|
EL CLASICO TICKETS
The game is officially sold out and no tickets are available to buy directly from Real Madrid. They can be found on re-sale websites but only for significant price increases, with the cheapest listed at the time of writing costing around €600 (£500).
EL CLASICO SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
|Position||Real Madrid players|
|Goalkeepers||Navas, Casilla, Yanez|
|Defenders||Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo, Coentrao, Danilo|
|Midfielders||Kroos, James, Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric, Asensio, Isco|
|Forwards||Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale, Vazquez, Mariano, Morata|
Bale trained lightly on Thursday as he continues his recovery from a calf problem but faces a race to be fit enough to start. According to La Ser, his injury could worsen if he plays before it has properly healed due to swelling around the muscle.
Pepe and Raphael Varane remain out, though the Frenchman has trained alone this week. Zidane also revealed that Toni Kroos and Dani Carvajal had felt muscle issues after the marathon Champions League match against Bayern Munich, but both are expected to be available.
Potential starting XI: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo.
|Goalkeepers||Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Masip|
|Defenders||Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, Umtiti, Mathieu|
|Midfielders||Rakitic, Busquets, Denis Suarez, Iniesta, Gomes, Alena|
|Forwards||Luis Suarez, Messi, Alcacer|
Barcelona are without Neymar, who is serving a suspension after being sent off against Malaga. Paco Alcacer is likely to replace him on the left side of the attacking trident.
Arda Turan could be another option, but having failed to recover from a groin injury in time to make the bench against Juventus he is unlikely to be restored straight back into the starting XI and may not be available at all. Rafinha and Aleix Vidal are definitely out.
Potential starting XI: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Alcacer.
EL CLASICO BETTING & GAME ODDS
Real Madrid are 23/20 favourites to win at home, according to Oddschecker, with Barcelona priced at 23/10 and the draw available at 16/5.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the 7/2 favourite to score first, while Lionel Messi is available at 23/5 and Luis Suarez can be backed at 5/1.
EL CLASICO GAME PREVIEW
It could be a week to remember for Real Madrid. Having secured their progression to the Champions League semi-finals on the back of a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick against Bayern Munich, Zinedine Zidane’s men now have the chance to take a huge step towards the Spanish title in the latest Clasico.
Barcelona, meanwhile, are playing to keep their season alive. They are out of Europe, defeated by Juventus, and though they still have the Copa del Rey final on the horizon it is La Liga and the Champions League that really matter to them.
Luis Enrique’s side are three points behind Madrid and have played one game more. Even if they win on Sunday, the destination of the championship will still be in Real’s hands but a loss would hammer a final nail in their coffin.
The bad news for Barca is that they have not been especially good on the back of tiring European matches in midweek. They beat Real Sociedad by a goal after the first leg of the Juventus tie, but had lost to Deportivo La Coruna while still caught up in the elation of their comeback against Paris Saint-Germain. Five days after the away match against PSG, they needed a Lionel Messi penalty in stoppage time to beat Leganes at home.
Madrid, on the other hand, have greater squad depth and have shown an ability to battle through fatigue in narrow post-Champions League wins over Sporting Gijon and Real Betis. It is testament to the professionalism and fitness levels Zidane has instilled that comebacks and late winners have become almost predictable to Madrid fans this season.
Ultimately, it is hard to argue against the idea of Madrid being the big club in the ascendancy in Spain at the moment. That Barca still have a chance to make their rivals’ lives difficult despite being at a low ebb, however, may give them hope that the pendulum could swing back quickly if the right moves are made in the summer.
WHAT DOES ‘EL CLASICO’ MEAN?
El Clasico means, quite simply, ‘The Classic’. The term originally referred only to league matches but has come to be associated with any meeting between the two clubs.
Barcelona and Real Madrid’s rivalry is regarded as one of the fiercest in world football and is heightened by the political tension between the two cities, which are the largest in Spain. Barca are a symbol of Catalan nationalism, with Madrid seen as representing Spanish nationalism.
They have become two of the most successful, popular and rich clubs on the planet and are the two most-followed sports teams on social media.