Real Madrid are set to welcome Barcelona in a highly-anticipated clash on Sunday night as they attempt to reclaim their spot at the summit of La Liga by defeating their Clasico rivals at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Los Blancos dropped down to second place in the Spanish top-flight after a shock 1-0 defeat to Levante last Sunday and are only two points behind the Catalan giants.
Meanwhile, Barcelona leapfrogged their Madrid opponents to the top spot when they beat Eibar in a massive 5-0 win last Saturday and will be hoping to maintain their status as league leaders by securing all three points at the Spanish capital.
Both clubs met disappointing results in their respective Champions League Round of 16 fixtures in midweek. While the Blaugrana were held to a 1-1 draw by Napoli at the San Paolo Stadium, Los Blancos suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona Head-to-Head
The two football giants will not only be battling for the top spot in La Liga on Sunday but also for the bragging rights in El Clasico as both clubs are locked together with 72 wins each in the Spanish top-flight. There are also 35 draws from their previous meetings in the league in the last nine decades.
Their most recent encounter took place in the league in December last year and ended in a stalemate at the Nou Camp.
Real Madrid form guide (in all competitions): W-L-W-D-L-L
Barcelona form guide (in all competitions): W-L-W-W-W-D
Real Madrid vs Barcelona Team News
Zinedine Zidane will remain without the services of Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio, who are both ruled out of action due to ankle and knee injuries respectively. Gareth Bale could make a start against Barcelona but faces fierce competition from Vinicius Junior and even Lucas Vazquez.
Injuries: Eden Hazard, Marco Asensio
Meanwhile, Quique Setien will be without Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan underwent an operation in January following a knee injury. Ousmane Dembele will also remain sidelined having recently undergone surgery on a hamstring injury. Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto will likely miss the fixture due to groin and adductor injuries respectively.
Injuries: Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto
Doubtful: Gerard Pique
Real Madrid vs Barcelona Predicted XI
Barcelona Predicted XI (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Junior Firpo; Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets, Arthur; Lionel Messi, Arturo Vidal, Antoine Griezmann
Real Madrid vs Barcelona Prediction
The stakes are as high as they can get this Sunday as both Real Madrid and Barcelona will be looking to secure a win following disappointing results in Europe. One usually expects a decent amount of goals when the two rivals meet, with their encounter in December last year being the first goalless draw between the teams since 2002.
The fixture is expected to be a tight affair but given the Catalans' loss of regulars like Alba and Roberto to injuries as well as Los Blancos' home-field advantage and determination to return to the top, this game might just end in favour of the hosts.
Verdict: Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona