Barça and Madrid ready for classic encounter
FC Barcelona face one of their toughest tests of the season as the long-awaited encounter with Real Madrid takes place on Monday evening (22:00h) and victory would see the Catalan side leapfrog their opponents at the top of the Primera table.
Barcelona (ACN).- In a game that usually has so much action and excitement there will be an added edge as the contest takes place on a Monday evening for only the third time in 111 meetings between the clubs. Barça are second and just one point behind their guests and the two top scorers in the top flight go head to head as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo meet.
Exactly one year ago the two teams met in Camp Nou and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the only goal as the home team won 1-0 and went on to triumph again in the Santiago Bernabéu and lift the league title by three points from Madrid. Once again things are very close at the top, but coach Pep Guardiola has sought to control the pressure of the game by telling his players and staff not to talk about el clásico in the days leading up to the game.
Former Barça coach José Mourinho returns to Camp Nou as head coach of Real Madrid for the first time and he has yet to taste defeats since taking over the club in the summer. With a record of 19 games unbeaten, Madrid have drawn just twice in the league, against Real Mallorca and Levante. Mourinho has reorganised the defence and introduced an effective counter-attack system to the team. Barça are just one point and have remained faithful to the style of play that has won them so many trophies and fans around the world under Guardiola. El clásico this season will certainly be a contrast of styles.
Gaby Milito was the only first-team player absent from training on Sunday while Thiago Alcántara played for the juvenil side against Espanyol. Real Madrid have named a 20-man squad to travel to the Ciutat Contal. Gonzalo Higuaín, Ricardo Carvalho and Sami Khedira have travelled, while Ezequiel Garay, Sergio Canales and David Rameos have all been rested. Fernando Gago and Kaká are both still out through injury.
There will be 891 professionals working for the media to cover the game between Barça and Real Madrid on Monday with 159 different outlets and 28 countries all seeing first-hand what happens. Reporters, photographers, commentators, cameramen and technicians will all cram into the stadium along with the thousands of fans.
The last ten in Camp Nou