Barcelona taught Real Madrid a footballing lesson the last time the two teams met in the El Clasico, earlier this season. With home advantage this time around, Barca will be confident of another attacking masterclass when they host their biggest rivals in another round of El Clasico at the Camp Nou Saturday.
The 4-0 victory in November last year is seen as one of the major reasons behind Rafa Benitez losing his job as Real Madrid manager, and with a man desperate to prove his worth as a coach in Zinedine Zidane now at the helm of affairs, it will be interesting to see how the French legend handles this marquee game.
In the match earlier this season, Real Madrid looked flat from the beginning and had no answers to Barcelona's attack, with Luis Suarez grabbing a brace, while Neymar and Andres Iniesta put their names on the scoresheet as well.
The 4-0 thumping was a sign of things to come for Real Madrid and Barcelona in the La Liga this season, with the latter, the defending champions, currently holding a massive 10-point lead over their rivals. Barcelona are nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid, and look as certain as there is anything in football to clinch their second consecutive La Liga title.
Even if Real Madrid somehow manage to keep the deadly "MSN" trio of Lionel Messi, Suarez and Neymar quiet and somehow come away with three points from the Camp Nou, it is hard to see that result having much of an effect on the title race. A seven-point deficit – which is what it would be if Real Madrid beat Barcelona Saturday – would still be too much to make up with seven matches to go.
For all of the team's improvements under Zidane, though, Real Madrid still look like a work in progress, with their iffy away form remaining a major cause for concern. And on top of that, they run into a Barcelona side unbeaten in 39 matches, with their last defeat coming way back in October, when they went down 2-1 to Sevilla.
Messi, Suarez and Neymar only seem to be getting better and better, and if they drop their stardust on this El Clasico, Real Madrid will be in trouble. Zidane will hope his defence holds out, while also looking to his own star trio to find the back of the net at the other end.
The "BBC" have not been firing on all cylinders this season, owing to lack of form and injuries, but Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale have the ability to be just as lethal on their day.
El Clasico schedule: Barcelona vs Real Madrid.
Date: Saturday, March 2.
Time: 8.30 p.m. CET (7.30 p.m. BST, 2.30 p.m. ET, 12 a.m. IST).
Venue: Camp Nou in Barcelona.
TV listings: India: Sony ESPN, Sony Six, Sony ESPN HD, Sony Six HD. Spain: Movistar TV Futbol, Canal+ and Abono Futbol. UK: Sky Sports 2 HD. USA, Canada, Australia, Middle East, North Africa and France: Bein Sports. Thailand: Bein Sports and Truevisions. Singapore: Supersports 202. Malaysia: Astro SuperSport. China: LeTV, Guangdong Sports, QQ Sports and PPTV Sport. Hong Kong: LeTV and Now Sports.