Barcelona, April 1 (IANS) Saturday will see the biggest La Liga game of the football season in Spain as FC Barcelona entertain Real Madrid in “el Clasico’ in the Camp Nou stadium.
Perhaps the game itself will have little bearing on the destination of the La Liga title, which is almost certain to remain in Barcelona given that the home side has a nine-point lead over Atletico Madrid and a 10-point advantage over Real, but a Barcelona-Madrid game is about more than who will win the league, reports Xinhua news agency.
There is pride at stake on Saturday and even more so for Real Madrid, whose options of the league title disappeared long ago and who still have the raw memories of the 4-0 home defeat they suffered against Barcelona earlier this season.
But Saturday will also see raw emotion for Barcelona as the club looks to use the game as a homage to former coach and player Johan Cruyff, who died eight days ago. What better way to remember the man who turned around the club’s fortunes than to produce a vintage performance against Barcelona’s most bitter rivals?
Of course that emotion could work both ways and coach Luis Enrique will be at pains to ensure the desire to pay homage to Cruyff doesn’t lead to nerves, precipitation and errors which Real Madrid’s attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale will be quick to capitalise on.
Bale has already said that Real Madrid have a plan to deal with Barcelona and that they have to be aggressive, but that is easier said than done against a Barcelona whose attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar has been outstanding this season.
Barcelona have the handicap that their players in general had to travel further during the recent international break, but minor injuries kept Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta at home and they are both fit to play, while Sergio Ramos for Madrid has recovered from the back problem which saw him leave the last Spain squad.
With both sides at full strength, some of the best players in the world on the pitch and half of the world watching on TV, it should be a match that lives up to its name: They don’t call it El Clasico for nothing.