Real eye revenge in first Clasico


MADRID – Football fans are in for a treat as bitter rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid gear up to face each other four times in 18 crucial days, beginning with Saturday’s league ‘El Clasico’ at the Santiago Bernabeu. Barcelona and Real will lock horns in the league, Kings Cup final and then over two legs in the Champions League semi-final in a crucial period that could make or break their respective seasons.
Champions Barcelona hold a commanding eight point lead over Real in the league with seven games left and victory over their foes would virtually seal the league title, while a draw would still leave Madrid with a mountain to climb. Real coach Jose Mourinho watched Sporting Gijon win 1-0 at the Bernabeu in their last home league outing to end his nine year 150 match unbeaten home league record and the Portuguese hopes to fare better than in his first Clasico when Barcelona thrashed his side 5-0 at Camp Nou.
It was the heaviest defeat of Mourinho’s glittering career and both he and his wounded players will be out for revenge for that humiliation. It is a clash of the league’s leading scorers with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi on 29 league goals for the season with Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo one behind on 28. While Messi has been a regular scorer in this fixture, Ronaldo is looking to net in his first Clasico and forget the Camp Nou mauling. “It is completely different to the first game (when Real lost 5-0),” said Ronaldo. “We have to think it is possible (to win) because they (Barcelona) are not from another planet. “They are one of the best footballing sides but we are in good shape and have to be confident that the best team will win.” Barcelona are unbeaten on the road with 13 wins and two draws and their coach Pep Guardiola has won a perfect five successive Clasicos and the balance of goals during these fixtures is 16 for Barca and just two for Real. “We won’t make the mistake of going to the Bernabeu thinking nothing is lost if we lose,” said Guardiola. “We have the opportunity to take a decisive step towards the league title.”