El Clasico - All you need to know

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Bragging rights for the first edition of this season’s El Clasico are up for grabs as perennial foes Real Madrid and Barcelona square off in their La Liga encounter on Saturday afternoon.

Here’s all you need to know ahead of this much-anticipated encounter, which will be hosted at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Spanish capital, Madrid.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid head into this encounter on the back of five straight League victories which, after a shaky start to the season, has pushed them up to third place in the standings.

Los Blancos have been in fine goal-scoring form this season, netting 30 in their eight League fixtures thus far, with 15 courtesy of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo – the same amount as Neymar and Lionel Messi combined.

The Galacticos will be without their Welsh speedster Gareth Bale, who is suffering from a muscle strain, while Spanish international Sergio Ramos is a major doubt after being sidelined with a calf injury.

Coach’s comments:

"We're in good form and in good shape, focused and playing really well. We go into the Clasico in great shape and Barcelona also go into the match in ideal condition." – Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti

Player’s comments:

“It will be a difficult match because Barcelona are playing well. I'm not going to play against Messi, I'm going to play against Barcelona. They are a great team. Real Madrid and Barcelona are playing each other." – Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo

Barcelona

Barcelona are the current La Liga log-leaders, winning seven of their eight matches thus far, and are yet to concede a League goal.

South American duo Lionel Messi and Neymar have been the source of most of Barca’s goals this season, and will now be joined by fellow Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, who returns and could make his official debut for Barca following his four-month ban.

Barcelona have no major injury concerns as they look to extend their four-point lead at the summit of the La Liga standings and continue their 13-match unbeaten run in the League this year.

Coach’s comments:

"We will be coming out against Madrid with the same attitude we have shown all season. We'll go for the game from the start, look to have control of the ball in their half. We will see if we're capable of that or not.” – Barcelona coach Luis Enrique

Player’s comments:

“It’s hard to predict what we’ll find on Saturday, you don’t know how they’ll be and often it all comes down to little details. There is a lot of quality in both teams and the game could go either way.” – Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta

Match Facts:

  • Lionel Messi has scored 21 times in an El Clasico and currently sits on 250 La Liga goals, and is just one behind the league’s all-time top-scorer Telmo Zarra
  • Opposite number Ronaldo, who has scored 13 goals against Barcelona, has netted 24 goals in his last 16 La Liga appearances
  • If Barcelona keep a clean sheet, they will equal the longest run of clean sheets in La Liga history (9)
  • Both sides have scored in each of the last 16 El Clasicos – the longest run in the history of the fixture

Head-to-head:

  • Real Madrid and Barcelona have met on 168 previous occasions. Los Blancos lead the way with 70 wins compared to Barcelona’s 66, with 32 draws.
  • Real Madrid edge their opponents in the number of goals scored in this fixture: 274 compared to Barca’s 265, with an average of 3.21 goals per game.
  • In their match-ups at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid have won 51 of the 84 encounters, with 15 draws.
  • Barcelona have won six of the last ten La Liga encounters against Madrid, with two draws and two wins for Real.

Today's clash between the two Spanish giants kicks off at 6pm.

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