La Liga preview: El Clasico is here

Updated: December 9, 2011

One of the biggest games on the calendar for world football will take place at 9pm on Saturday evening as Barcelona travel to Real Madrid for ‘El Clasico’.

The game at the Bernabeu will be Barcelona’s last game in the league until after the winter break in January as they travel to the World Club Championships in Japan, and a defeat on Saturday could see the champions go nine points behind Madrid by then.

According to both the form guide and the bookies, Real Madrid are favourites for the win (at 2.5 with and haven’t dropped a single point at home this season, while Barcelona’s away record is poor by their standards, having won only two away games in the league this season.

This season, Pep Guardiola’s side haven’t been the all-functioning winning machine that everyone following Spanish football has been used to over the past few seasons, away from home at least, so surely the toughest place to go in Spain (apart from the Nou Camp) will mean a tough test for the champions.

Even a draw would be a decent result for Madrid, despite the desire Jose Mourinho would have to hammer Barca; the “Special One” is pragmatic enough to know that a point shared would be sufficient enough to make his side firm favourites for the title.

Real Madrid’s style this season has been as exciting, if not more so, than Barcelona’s, as the Galacticos have swept aside everyone in the league bar an away draw against Racing Santander and a defeat to a Levante side praised by Mourinho for doing the “nasty things” well; a side of the game Jose knows all about.

Away from home, Barcelona have at times looked bereft of ideas going forward which could prove costly against a tight Real Madrid unit that is capable of attacking on the counter with devastating effect.

The “battle” between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the scoring charts is another talking point and their showdown is delicately poised with both players on 17 league goals this season; Ronaldo is currently favourite to score first but check out more first scorer odds outs here on

Elsewhere on Saturday, Sevilla will hope to continue the form that saw them beat Getafe 3-0 on Monday night, as they travel to Levante in an effort to leap frog the season’s surprise package into fourth place.

Third place Valencia will try and keep their focus on their league form after crashing out of the Champions League at the hands of Chelsea as they travel to struggling Real Betis, who are one point off the relegation zone.

Sunday’s fixtures see Rayo Vallecano likely to end their run of defeats against second from bottom Sporting Gijon, after an unkind set of fixtures saw Jose Ramon Sandoval’s side play Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Valencia in the last two weeks.

Real Sociedad travel to Villarreal on the back of their brilliant 3-2 comeback against Malaga last week; with Villarreal fresh from finishing their Champions League campaign with no points following their 2-0 home defeat by Napoli.

Bottom place Real Zaragoza travel to Real Mallorca, while Espanyol can move up to eighth place with a home win over Atletico Madrid.

Getafe host Granada while seventh place Osasuna will travel to sixth place Malaga and Athletic Bilbao will face Racing Santander at home.

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