The El Clasico next weekend may not decide the destiny of the Spanish La Liga title but it will surely give us a clear picture of whether Real Madrid have the bones to wrestle the title from their traditional rivals Barcelona.
The Spanish title will not be won at the Santiago Bernabeu regardless of the outcome of arguably the biggest club fixture in world football neither will it be won in the next three or four weekends.
This is because, like in England, Italy or Germany, the race in Spain has never been tighter.
After 29 rounds of matches and nine still remaining, Real Madrid and Barcelona are level on point and only separated by a goal difference, yet looking at the remaining fixtures, it’s evident that Real have the easier run-in as compared to Barca.
After Barcelona next weekend, Madrid’s other home games includes the visit of third-placed Valencia, Osasuna (14) and Athletico Bilbao (6).
The remaining away fixtures include; Racing Santander (16), who they place this weekend, Almeria (12), Real Zaragoza (17), Real Mallorca (4) before winding up the season at Malaga (15).
As for Barca, after this weekend’s home clash with Bilbao (6), they travel to Bernabeu for the El Clasico (1), then host Depotivo La Corruna (7), travel to Espanyol (14), play bottom side Xerez at Camp Nou before another tricky away tie against Villareal (8).
A trip to Sevilla (5) will be sandwiched between two home games against Tenerife (18) and an end of the season clash with Valladolid (19).
The El Clasico game will be key, but the league will not be decided there in my opinion. It will be as tight as always or even tighter given that both sides know what a difference a win will make for the reminder of the season.
Real is the team on top team going into this weekend’s games, and are expected to be on top by the time of the El Clasico, but will be the team under pressure to win as a second successive defeat in that particular fixture is even unthinkable to them.
Memories of last season’s 6-2 defeat at the Bernabeu are still fresh on their minds (and never will it ever be forgotten), so you can say they’ll want to do a revenge of some sort.
The 1-0 defeat in the Camp Nou early this season left them (Real) feeling cheated as they thought they deserved something, not least for their performance.
Going into the last nine fixtures, each side appears very calm, and do not want to be the first to drop more points.
Both teams will be hoping that their key men don’t suffer any injuries at this crucial stage of the season. While Messi (25) and Ibrahimovic (15) are scoring the goals from Barca, Higuaín (23) and Ronaldo (17) appears to be doing the same for Real.
Higuain in particular has been the key man for Manuel Pellegrini’s team despite all the attention being focused on the world’s most expensive player Ronaldo.
When the Argentinean international was out injured early in the season, Real struggled for goals but ever since his return, he’s turning in goals left, right and centre.
Both teams seem to be firing on all cylinders going into this weekend’s matches when Real Madrid travel to Racing Santander while Pep Guardiola’s side host in-form Bilbao, game which the title challengers should win.
With only the league to play for, Real are expected to be the more fire-up team ahead of next week’s El Clasico but while Barcelona have the Uefa Champions League to contend for, they know they’re still a long way to catching their rivals on La Liga titles count, so with such a team, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to read what’s on their mind.Follow https://twitter.com/HamzaNkuutu