El Clasico: Can Real Madrid edge a title influencing clash against Barcelona in the Spanish capital?

As the La Liga title race approaches its dramatic conclusion, the outcome of this highly anticipated Clasico encounter could decide the trophy's fate once and for all.

It's one out of three jobs done for Real Madrid so far in what is set to be a season-defining week of football for Los Blancos. Zinedine Zidane's men come into this weekend's game after comfortably controlling the home leg of their Champions League quarter-final against a lacklustre Liverpool side; taking a 3-1 lead to Merseyside.

Madrid will face off against Jurgen Klopp's side in what has all the makings of an explosive second leg at Anfield, as the Bernabeu outfit continue in their hunt for a record-breaking 14th European title.

Before they can turn their attention to finishing the job against Salah and co, another obstacle stands before them in La Liga this weekend - an all-important Clasico clash with an in-form Barcelona side. A game that could have great implications upon who lifts the Spanish league title come May.

Having embarked on an impressive run of form since the turn of the new year, Barcelona are the current team to beat in La Liga having gone unbeaten in 19 games (16 wins and three draws) since December 5, equivalent to half a season of league football without defeat.

As a result of Blaugrana's immaculate run, they have sensationally closed the points deficit between themselves and league leaders Atletico Madrid from 10 to just one, setting up an enthralling conclusion to the title race with nine games to go.

Sitting just three points clear of Diego Simeone's side and two points adrift of the Catalonian outfit, Zidane's men continue to breath down the necks of their inner-city rivals and historic Clasico foes - in what has descended into a dramatic three-horse race.

With an out-of-form Atletico making the difficult trip to Real Betis this weekend, a victory for either Clasico side would temporarily put them in the driving seat should Los Culchoneros drop points.

Fresh from an emphatic victory in Europe, should Los Blancos continue their momentum and secure a vital three points at the Santiago Bernabeu, the prospect of a historic European and domestic double could sensationally start to materialise in the Spanish capital.

Tips of the fixture

Karim Benzema has scored 18 goals for Real Madrid in La Liga so far this season, and scored in Los Blancos' 2-0 victory over Eibar last weekend.

The Frenchman is 16/5 to score first in the Clasico with Sky Bet.

Despite Real's newly found form, Blaugrana's run of 16 games unbeaten makes them the most in-form side in Europe.

Barcelona to win 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2 is 6/1.

Barcelona to win and both teams to score is also priced at 5/2.

Stat attack

Aside from Lionel Messi, four legendary Real Madrid forwards make up the top five scorers in the history of the fixture: Cristiano Ronaldo, Alfredo di Stefano, Raul and Ferenc Puskas have all reached double figures on the goalscoring front.

Since the fixture began, the two have met 224 times - Real Madrid (90) boast more wins in that time than Barcelona (86) and the two sides have drawn 48 times, leaving them with a win percentage of 40% and Blaugrana on 38%.

Goalscoring is also edged by Los Blancos by just six goals - of the 720 goals scored in the tie, Real have scored 363 in contrast with the 357 scored by Ronald Koeman's men.

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Los Blancos have only won four of the last 10 Clasicos at the Bernabeu, with Barcelona edging the other six. The last draw in the Spanish capital was in January, 2013 in the Copa Del Rey.

Zidane's side have scored 10 goals in their last 10 meetings with Barcelona, Blaugrana on the other hand have managed 13.

Real's longest winless streak against Barcelona stretched from 2008 until 2011 where they lost five games in a row across all competitions.

Alternatively, their greatest winning run against the Catalonian giants stretched between 1962 and 1965 where they won six consecutive games.

Memorable matches

Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid

Supercopa de Espana final, 1st leg

August 13, 2017

In the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana at the Nou Camp, Cristiano Ronaldo made the scoresheet before being subsequently sent off as Real Madrid emerged 3-1 winners in Catalonia, to set up an explosive second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

A goalless first half was directly juxtaposed by an action-packed second in which four goals were scored, tensions ran high and Madrid's Portuguese winger received his marching orders.

The deadlock was broken just five minutes after the restart - an unfortunate own goal from Gerard Pique saw the Spaniard slide Marcelo's testing cross into the back of his own net, before Messi equalised from the penalty spot in the 77th minute as the game approached its dramatic climax.

Not one to be outdone by his age-old rival, substitute Cristiano Ronaldo regained the lead for Real just three minutes later, slamming the ball past Ter Stegen after a lengthy run from the halfway line, receiving a booking for his corresponding shirtless celebration.

Having already been booked, Ronaldo received his marching orders for a second yellow when he threw himself to the ground in the Barcelona penalty box after a shoulder to shoulder tussle with Samuel Umtiti - unimpressed by his theatrics, the referee swiftly dismissed the Portuguese international.

Thankfully for Ronaldo, Real were able to add a third in stoppage time to take a 3-1 lead to the Spanish capital. Marco Asensio rounded off a successful night for Los Blancos with a precise strike from 25-yards.

Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

Copa del Rey final

April 16, 2014

In the seventh Copa del Rey final contested between Real Madrid and Barcelona, Los Blancos emerged 2-1 winners at Mestalla in Valencia to secure their 19th victory of the competition, thanks to goals from Angel Di Maria and Gareth Bale.

Carlo Ancelotti's side made a bright start to the game after just 10 minutes - having dispossessed Dani Alves on the halfway line, Isco played through a superb ball to Angel Di Maria.

Despite calls for offside from a sea of Blaugrana players, the flag remained down and the Argentine raced through to finish a superb counter-attack and give Madrid a crucial early lead.

The next 58 goalless minutes emulated some of the best cagy and technical football that the Clasico had to offer. Madrid's defence held up well to the ever-imposing threat of Lionel Messi as Barcelona pushed on, determined for an equaliser.

Eventually, their persistence proved to be beneficial as they levelled the tie in the 68th minute, through an unlikely scorer - a young centre-back by the name of Marc Bartra. A corner straight from the training ground outfoxed the sloppy marking on show from Ancelotti's side, leaving Bartra on hand to head home and equalise.

In a footballing instance such as an El Clasico cup final, it takes a player of the highest quality to settle the tie for their side once and for all - arise Mr Gareth Bale. Proving his worth as the most expensive player in the world at the time, the Welshman's 84th minute is regarded as one of the best goals in recent Spanish football history.

Picking up the ball in his own half, Bale embarked on a scintillating run down the left-hand side, and after Marc Bartra elbowed the winger out of play, he raced back into play to beat the Spaniard and emphatically nutmegged the approaching Pinto to score a history-making winner for Los Blancos.

Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid

La Liga

October 24, 2020

Ronald Koeman slammed the VAR's implementation into Spanish football after Barcelona fell to a dramatic 3-1 defeat at the Nou Camp as their turbulent start to the season continued.

An action-packed start to the game saw both sides score within the opening eight minutes. Federico Valverde gave Los Blancos the advantage after a well-played pass from Karim Benzema before Blaugrana's teenage starlet, Ansu Fati levelled proceedings three minutes later - making him the youngest scorer in Clasico history.

The game's main talking point came just after the hour-mark when Real were awarded a penalty - after a lengthy VAR check, referee Juan Martinez spotted an incident in which Clement Lenglet appeared to have grabbed the shirt of Sergio Ramos, who in turn scored the spotkick to put Real ahead.

After Barcelona had two strong claims for handball dismissed, Luka Modric wrapped up the three points for Zidane's side - the Croatian finished a well-worked move with Rodrygo to close the curtain on another controversial Clasico.

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