Clasico fever hits La Liga

Clasico fever hits La Liga

Published Nov. 26, 2010 2:31 p.m. ET

All eyes fall on the Nou Camp in the 13th round of Primera Division action as heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid go toe-to-toe on Monday.

Therefore, the outcome of the two 'Clasico' showdowns could go a long way to determining where the championship will end up this season.

Barca have held the upper hand in recent years, doing the double over the capital club in each of the last two campaigns en route to being crowned champions ahead of runners-up Madrid.

However, the first 'Clasico' of this campaign looks impossible to call, with both teams in red-hot form.


Deportivo La Coruna's veteran coach Miguel Angel Lotina said: "For me the two teams have never gone into the Clasico so strong."

Pacesetters Madrid, who boast a one-point lead over Barca heading into Monday's game, are still unbeaten in all competitions under Jose Mourinho with 15 wins from 19 games, while they have won seven on the trot in La Liga.

They also have the tightest defence in the division with only six goals conceded and the joint-leading attack along with Barca, both teams having scored 33 times.

Fourteen of those Madrid goals have been netted by Cristiano Ronaldo, leaving him one ahead of Barca superstar Lionel Messi at the top of the Primera Division scoring charts.

Ronaldo, who has scored a phenomenal 51 times in just 54 appearances for Madrid since his record-breaking move from Manchester United, is in understandably confident mood ahead of the trip to the Nou Camp.

He warned Barca: "This Madrid is completely different to last season and we haven't lost a game yet. It will be a very exciting match and, as we are in great form, I think we'll win there.

"We are playing well. As well as that, the team has matured so I don't think there's a better time to visit the Nou Camp.

While the new-look Madrid have been blazing a trail across Spain and Europe, Barca are not far behind them and they go into Monday's encounter with 10 wins in their last 11 competitive games, drawing the other.

Last weekend they thumped Almeria 8-0 - equalling the club's best-ever away win - while in midweek they defeated Panathinaikos 3-0 to join Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Messi netted his 150th official goal for Barca in Greece, and took his tally to 16 goals in his last 11 appearances for the club.

Speaking after the win, a wary Guardiola said: "We are going into the Clasico in good form, but that's no guarantee of anything. Every game is a test."

Away from the Nou Camp, Villarreal will hope to consolidate third spot on Saturday when they travel to bottom club Real Zaragoza, for whom new coach Javier Aguirre will be making his home debut.

Villarreal midfielder Cani said: "I would sign off right now to finish third. We would all be very happy with that at the end of the season, which is when it counts."

Also on Saturday, Sevilla are at home to Getafe and surprise package Espanyol travel to Atletico Madrid.

Espanyol are fourth in the standings, although they have picked up just four points and one goal in six games away from home, where they boast a 100% record.

The remaining games are played on Sunday, when new Almeria coach Jose Luis Oltra makes his debut against home-town club Valencia at the Mestalla, while third-bottom Malaga go to Real Mallorca and fourth-bottom Sporting Gijon host Real Sociedad.

Also, Hercules meet fellow promoted side Levante, Racing Santander take on Depor and Athletic Bilbao welcome Osasuna to San Mames.