Recently crowned LaLiga champions Barcelona will hope to keep their unbeaten streak intact when Real Madrid visit for El Clasico on Sunday.
Barca have already won a domestic double and are bidding to finish the campaign without suffering a single league defeat, while Los Blancos are also on a high after booking their place in the Champions League final this week.
Here Press Association Sport details some of the talking points ahead of the game.
Real have an extra incentive to beat their great rivals, who are on the verge of completing the first 38-game unbeaten season in LaLiga history. Ernesto Valverde’s side merely need to avoid a loss in their final four fixtures – three of which are at home – and the most difficult of those is the visit of Real. The prospect of achieving such a landmark means both clubs will surely be at full strength on Sunday. Real won at the Nou Camp in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup in August and have not lost there since March 2015.
Midfielder Andres Iniesta has already confirmed he will depart the only club he has ever played for at the end of this season, meaning this is due to be his final Clasico. However, the 33-year-old just “did specific work” during Thursday’s training session, according to a post on Barcelona’s official website, having only appeared off the bench late on against Deportivo. Despite being a player that has played a huge part in Barcelona’s Clasico victories down the years, he may be restricted to a minor role this time around.
Congratulations to @FCBarcelona for winning LaLiga and the Copa del Rey this season.— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 30, 2018
There was a tweet sent out from Real Madrid’s account congratulating Barcelona when they were confirmed as LaLiga champions last weekend, but there will not be a guard of honour at the Nou Camp too. Known as a ‘pasillo’, Real were given one by Barca prior to walloping them 4-1 in 2008 but they were not afforded such a reception last December after winning the Club World Cup. Zinedine Zidane has said his men will not perform one for Barca this weekend. Might that add fuel to the fire?
As ever when these two sides meet, all eyes will be on the two marquee names – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The former has scored 43 goals for Barcelona this season while Ronaldo has 42 to his credit but has not registered in his previous two appearances, which were in both legs against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. In 14 appearances for Real at the Nou Camp, Ronaldo has scored 11 times. At the same stadium, Messi has not scored from open play in a Clasico since October 2012.