La Liga

Xavi to make 600th Barca appearance

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Barcelona star Xavi hopes to experience the "footballing pleasure" of winning at the Bernabeu as he prepares to make his 600th official appearance for the club against their great rivals Real Madrid on Saturday night.

The first Clasico of the 2011-12 Primera Division campaign is the standout fixture in Spain and indeed the world this coming weekend, with Real currently three points clear of Barca at the top of La Liga with a game in hand.

There is therefore extra pressure on Barcelona to force a positive result in the Spanish capital, where they claimed a 2-0 win in the Champions League semi-finals in April.

Playmaker Xavi, who is set for a 13th league appearance against Los Blancos, told fcbarcelona.com: "It's always nice to win at the Bernabeu and even more so looking at the table. It would be a turning point for us.

"To go and win at the Bernabeu is a footballing pleasure."

Xavi insisted league form rarely has much of an impact on a fixture as unique as the Clasico.

"(Form) means nothing as far as this game is concerned......the clasicos have nothing to do with the table, nor how either team are doing. Anything can happen," he added.

Real boss Jose Mourinho must decide who will lead the line for his team as central striker, after confirming to marca.com that Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria would play on Saturday in the wide attacking roles.

That leaves a straight fight between Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema to play at the point of the attack, and the former said: "It is the coach's decision. I'm happy to help the team and now all I can do is relax and think about the next game."

Real will hope their Champions League win away to Ajax on Wednesday night is not a bad omen.

They won 4-0 in Amsterdam in November 2010 but were then hammered 5-0 by Barca at the Nou Camp in their next match. They go into Saturday's game having suffered just one defeat in their last 18 matches in all competitions.

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