PREVIEW : BARCELONA VS REAL MADRID
DATE: 06TH MAY, 2018
TIME : 07:45PM
VENUE :CAMP NOU, BARCELONA, SPAIN
REFEREE :HERNANDEZ HERNANDEZ
Barcelona welcome Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in the El Clasico in what will be Andres Iniesta Last El Clasico appearance as a player. With Ernesto Valverde 's side already crowned La Liga champions.
Zinedine Zidane 's Real men will be heading to Catalonia full of confidence having qualified for the final of the Champions League for the third consecutive years , and will now be hoping to prevent Barca going the entire La Liga season unbeaten.
Barcelona are the only undefeated team in the League. They have employed one of their most functional squad in recents years, but Valverde's men have shown nothing but ruthless consistency during their march to the La Liga title.
The Catalan outfit crowned the Spanish top-flight champions last weekend following their defeat of Deportivo La Coruna, signalling a domestic triumph with four games still to play. Valverde will now be looking to create an 'Invincibles' side by finishing off the season unbeaten.
Valverde's tenure has not always been smooth, especially when defensive mistakes and a lack of control in the middle have brought criticism in the Spanish press, but thankfully Barca have had
Lionel Messi to call on when needed, who has produced some of his best domestic form of late.
The Argentine forward has played a part in 44 of Barcelona's 87 goals in La Liga and has proven an irreplaceable cog in Barcelona's dominance in the league this term. Messi was crucial in the reverse of the Clasico just before Christmas, when the 30-year-old scored twice in a
dominating 3-0 win in the Spanish capital.
Valverde has tended to play his strongest starting XI domestically and that has arguably contributed towards his side's laboured and ultimately
shocking Champions League exit at the hands of Roma, although the Catalans do have a Spanish double to look back on with both a 25th league crown and the Copa del Rey in their kitty .
Welcoming Madrid to Camp Nou, Barcelona will rest safe in the knowledge that they have won 26 of their last 28 home matches and have been winning at both half time and full time in 22 of those contests.
The club will be planning the best of celebrations for Andres Iniesta , who recently announced that he will be departing the club, potentially for China.
Recent form: WDWWDW
Recent form (all competitions): WLWDWW
Real Madrid head to Camp Nou having reached their third consecutive Champions League final on the bounce after beating Bayern Munich , leaving Zidane with the chance to break another European record by becoming the first manager to win three straight crowns.
Madrid have shown remarkable efficiency in the knockout phases of the tournament, delivering at the crucial moments despite some lack of consistency against the Germans and Juventus in the round prior. The club have also received a little help from an almost unstoppable Cristiano Ronaldo in front of goal.
With four games remaining, Madrid sit in third position in the standings and are now battling to leapfrog city rivals Atletico Madrid in order to claim a second-place finish come the end of the season.
As things stand, Diego Simeone's men hold a four-point lead over Real, but Zidane's men do have a game in hand over their City rivals . Added to the chase, Madrid will also revel in the opportunity to thwart Barcelona's pursuit of an unbeaten championship win by claiming victory on Sunday.
Recent form: WWDWDW
Recent form (all competitions): LWDWWD
Iniesta will be hoping to shake off a minor calf issue as he bids to start in what should be his last Clasico as a Barcelona player.
Philippe Coutinho should also be a part of the hosts' midfield, sitting alongside Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets . Both Luis Suarez and Messi are expected to lead the front line as usual.
Zidane has made a few comments in the press suggesting that he wants to be at full strength for the trip to Catalonia. Madrid are likely to start with Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in attack, while Isco could play just behind the front two.
Dani Carvajal remains out with an injury picked up in the Champions League, meaning that Lucas Vazquez may stand in again at right-back - if not,
Achraf Hakimi may feature. Raphael Varane might also sit out as he continues to manage a slight knock.
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Coutinho, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Suarez, Messi
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Navas; Vasquez, Nacho, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo
Head To Head
Barcelona celebrated Christmas by producing a thumping 3-0 victory over Real when the sides met last, Messi, Suarez and Aleix Vidal all bagging in an emphatic away win at the Bernabeu.
That victory snapped a two-game losing streak against Madrid, who won both legs of the Supercopa de Espana to claim a 10th title at the expense of Barca.
Across the last five competitive meetings between the teams, both sides have won two and drawn once.
Barcelona will be keen to back up their La Liga title by finishing the season unbeaten under Valverde, while Zidane will want to ensure that his side do all that they can to spoil the party for Blaugrana.