Barcelona play host to Real Madrid in the final El Clasico of the season. The Catalan giants sealed their seventh La Liga title in the last decade last week, while Real Madrid this week booked their place in their fourth Champions League final in five years.
Domestically, Zinedine Zidane’s men have massively under-performed, and it was as early as January that they were outside the top four. But hey, if you win your fourth Champions League final in five years, then what does it matter?
Madrid must win if they are to have a good chance of surpassing their city rivals Atletico Madrid and achieve second place. A win or draw for Barcelona continues their unbeaten record, as they look to become the first ever La Liga side to go unbeaten.
These two giants of Spanish football go head-to-head once again in the most watched annual fixture of the beautiful game. Here are three key battles that could decide it this time:
3. Sergio Busquets vs Casemiro
Arguably the two best defensive-midfield players in world football. When all is considered Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will most likely be the difference in this game, but who gets the ball to them could be dependent on these two men in midfield.
Both are defensively sound, and have an intelligence that most cannot boast. Whichever side control’s the midfield will come down to this defensive battle.
Can Busquets break up the play and spray passes forward to Philippe Coutinho and Lionel Messi? Or will Casemiro’s engine run wild and unsettle the Spaniard? Whoever gets on top in the centre of the park, gives their side a massive chance of victory.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo vs Sergi Roberto
A complete miss-match on paper.
Ronaldo, as we know, has the ability to turn any defender inside out. But up against Roberto, the Portuguese international wont have his easiest day at the office. Roberto boasts high levels of intelligence in the game, and has begun to make this right-back position his own.
The Madrid number seven will be confident in beating the Spaniard, with his superior strenghth, speed and technical ability. There have been few full-backs in the history of football that have contained Ronaldo, and Roberto will join an elite club if he manages to do so on Sunday.
1. Lionel Messi vs Sergio Ramos
The famous battle between Sergio Ramos and Lionel Messi. A war that has seen many goals scored, red cards brandished and tense, close battles from start to finish. Oh, and the occasional red face for Ramos, after a piece of Messi brilliance.
If Barcelona are going to win, it’s usually through Messi. And if Real Madrid are going to prevent goals from being scored, its usually from Ramos. Making this the key battle in this match-up.
Messi has scored an astonishing 25 goals against Madrid in 37 outings, proving that Ramos has lost this battle on more occasions than he has won it. If Ramos can keep Messi from pulling the strings then Madrid have a chance, if not, Barcelona will continue their unbeaten record for sure.