El Clasico 2018: Barcelona vs Real Madrid team news, Messi vs Ronaldo rivalry

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Shirtless Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos celebrate CR7 scoring against Barcelona in El Clasico

Having lost the first leg 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are set to fight back against Barcelona in the first Clasico of the year 2018.

A victory for Real Madrid would see the four-point gap between themselves and Atlético cut to just one. Los Blancos, moreover, will still be with a game in hand. In other words, Sunday’s clash at the Camp Nou could restore the visitors’ pride by helping them achieve a respectable second-place finish after struggling in third and fourth position almost all season.

A look at the top of the Spanish Primera Division table ahead of El Clasico: 

A look at the top of the Spanish Primera Division table ahead of El Clasico 2018
Image credit: LiveSoccerTV.com

Meanwhile, although La Liga is done and dusted for Barcelona, a defeat would see their own version of “The Invincibles” come to an end. A victory for Real Madrid is all but supreme. With the ex-league champions not doing the guard of honor for the new kings of Spain, a triumph for the latter would thereof make a statement of not needing the Galacticos’ approval to confirm their dominance on the local front.

In truth, the real battle for Los Blancos isn’t in the league but in the Champions League where they will face Liverpool in the final in Kiev on May 26, 2018. All to do for, however, as leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of the hosts and achieving something positive out of a domestic campaign to rather forget is the wish of every Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid fan right now.

Real Madrid team news

Raphael Varane and Isco returned to training on Saturday morning but the latter all the same follows injured Dani Carvajal on the sidelines. Zinedine Zidane’s 19-man squad includes the likes of Vallejo, Nacho, Kovacic, Ceballos and Lucas Vazquez.

Karim Benzema, whose brace fired Real Madrid past Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, is poised to start El Clasico alongside the evergreen Ronaldo. Gareth Bale might come on as a substitute.

Barcelona team news

With no injury concerns and a full squad to boast of, Barcelona will see Andres Iniesta return to the team. The midfield legend missed the 2-2 draw away to Celta Vigo after officially stating he’ll be leaving Barcelona at the end of the season.

He then returned to Ernesto Valverde’s line-up for the Copa del Rey final – a match in which Iniesta’s 52nd-minute goal was part of the 5-0 humiliation runners-up Sevilla suffered on that day. Today’s Clasico at the Camp Nou will be the 2010 FIFA World Cup winner’s last.

 Andres Iniesta's last Clasico

The Messi vs Ronaldo battle

It is all but set for the boy from Madeira to once again showcase why he is the best player in the universe ahead of his bitter rival, Leo Messi. Although the Portuguese is eight goals behind his Argentine adversary in El Clasico matches, his 17 goals in 29 games is invariably on the high.

His Pichichi tally in La Liga this season stands at 24 strikes in 25 matches as compared to Messi’s 32 in 33 games. Still, Cristiano Ronaldo will be seeking to shut down the Nou Camp as he does best.

There is too much pride to play for in El Clasico on May 6; pride, and even a Ballon d’Or 2018 statement to be made against Leo, 20 days prior to the much-anticipated CR7 vs Mohamed Salah duel in the Champions League final.

El Clasico 2018 live TV and online channels listings (embed visible on desktop only)

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