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Friday March 1 2019
Real Madrid fear more El Clasico misery

The second installment of El Clasico in four days on Saturday offers Real Madrid the chance of redemption, but Rajan Hothi argues Barcelona remain favourites.

Having already got the better of their rivals once this week, Barcelona will be hoping they can repeat the trick on Saturday evening as they look to embarrass Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu again. Betting sites will once again be braced by strong interest for the most anticipated game in world football.

A double from Luis Suarez and an own-goal from Raphael Varane saw the Blaugrana secure their passage into the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday night. It was a damaging defeat for Madrid, but can they bounce back in Saturday’s league clash?

Form

It's been an indifferent few weeks for the hosts, who have suffered a humiliating home defeat at the hands of Girona, but tasted victory at Atletico Madrid as well as beating Ajax 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 encounter. However, the Copa defeat against the Catalan giants would've been a bitter pill for Santiago Solari and they'll be keen to rectify this defeat on Saturday.

The visitors, on the other hand, have endured a fantastic couple of weeks. Draws to Athletico Bilbao and Lyon were frustrating but recent wins against Real Madrid and Sevilla have propelled them ever closer to more domestic success. Ernesto Valverde will be keen to inflict further damage on their fierce rivals as they look to go 12 points ahead of Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Key Battles

Sergio Ramos vs Luis Suarez

It certainly didn't go to plan for Madrid’s back-line on Wednesday as Suarez was allowed to slot home two goals and Sergio Ramos will be eager to make sure the Uruguayan doesn't net this time around. With a clever striker like Suarez, Ramos needs to make sure he doesn't get dragged into his antics and vice versa as the two compete in what should be a great battle. If the hosts are to win this El Clasico, they are going to have to make sure they keep Suarez at bay because if they don’t, he will punish them like he did in midweek.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen vs Karim Benzema

While it was a fantastic night for Suarez on Wednesday, it wasn't one to remember for Karim Benzema who missed several chances for Los Blancos. The Frenchman didn't cover himself in glory and he will be chomping at the bit to redeem himself. Benzema needs to step up for Madrid and he certainly didn't do that last time out. If the European champions are to get anything out of this clash, they will be relying on the 31-year-old to showcase his goalscoring instincts.

Madrid must take their chances

With Barcelona riding high following their victory on Wednesday, they will be eager to add insult to injury to secure their second El Clasico triumph in a week. Madrid, on the other hand, will have the pressure of the home crowd on them as the Los Blancos supporters will be expecting a big showing after what was an embarrassing cup exit. If the hosts don't take their chances again, it could be a repeat of the Copa del Ray clash.

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