Bitter rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid meet on Saturday in the sixth ‘Clasico’ of the season to fight for three crucial points that will shape the destiny of this season’s La Liga title.
Real were 10 points clear of the Catalans just over a month ago but have drawn three of the last seven games while Barca have won their last 11 league matches. Real’s run, that has opened the door for Barcelona, began with a 1-1 draw at home to Malaga followed by further draws against Villarreal and Valencia.
The goals of Lionel Messi have been crucial in Barca’s recent run -- the Argentine has scored an incredible 18 goals in those 11 wins.
Cristiano Ronaldo has also netted 41 league goals for Madrid making it a head-to-head shoot out between the two best players in the world for the ‘Pichichi’ prize awarded to the league’s top scorer.
Both have earned countless man of the match awards, the tricky recent away wins for both sides at Atletico Madrid standing out for great match-winning goals from the two stars.
Messi has 63 in all competitions to Ronaldo’s 53, but if the Portuguese star wins his first La Liga title, against the reigning Spanish, European and World Club Champions, it would surely rank with the best feats in his career to date.
‘El Clasico’ matches have courted a fair amount of controversy in recent seasons with the appearance of Mourinho on the Madrid bench and his attempts to add a psychological dimension to the clash.The rivalry boiled over at the beginning of the season when Mourinho poked Barca coach Pep Guardiola’s assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye during a game. Mourinho has only beaten Barca once in 10 attempts since he took over.