Neymar Lionel Messi Luis Suarez Barcelona
The "MSN" trio will want to punish the Real Madrid defence in the El ClasicoReuters

The first El Clasico of the season – Real Madrid and Barcelona close together in the La Liga table, with the latter enjoying a three-point lead thanks to Rafa Benitez and his team suffering a surprise loss against Sevilla just before the international break.

Even if this was a dead rubber, it would have been the biggest game in Europe; with Real Madrid now looking to go back level with Barcelona with a victory, this El Clasico at the Bernabeu takes on gigantic proportions.

All the talk coming into this Real Madrid vs Barcelona match was the fitness of Lionel Messi, and if the Argentine would recover in time after missing nearly two months with a knee injury.

After returning to training earlier this week, Messi has been passed fit by Luis Enrique, much to the delight of everyone in the Barcelona camp.

Yes, Barcelona have been doing well in Messi's absence, with Neymar and Luis Suarez taking up the mantle, but there is absolutely no doubt that this team is a better one, a much-scarier one, with the left-footed wonder weaving his magic like only he can.

While Barcelona manager Luis Enrique confirmed Messi is fit again, the Spaniard did not go as far as to reveal if the record goalscorer in El Clasico's will start.

"Whether Messi plays or not, the best news is that he is fit again," Enrique said.

While Messi and his fitness is the story in the Barcelona camp, for Real Madrid, there is welcome news on that front as well, with Benitez having the luxury of picking Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale along with the irrepressible Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo has been a lone wolf for large parts of this season, owing to injury problems for the other three, but the return of Bale, Benzema and Rodriguez will add a lot more firepower to the Real Madrid lineup, firepower they will need, if Messi, Suarez and Neymar – the MSN trio – go nuts at the Bernabeu.

Bale Benzema Ronaldo Real Madrid
The "BBC" will want to outshine the Barcelona trio in this El ClasicoReuters

"It's the second time that we've had everyone available," Benitez said. "It brings me optimism for the future. This is a winning team with potential for growth.

"If we have everyone available, competition for places is higher and that's beneficial for the group. Everyone who is in the squad is important and could play. The strength that we've shown in the weeks that we've had players out brings me confidence and optimism.

"It's my first Clasico with the first team. The team come into it in good shape -- they're excited and looking forward to it. We're aware of the importance of any game against Barcelona and of getting all three points.

"The same is on the line for me as for Real Madrid as a whole -- three very important points to be up there challenging for the title right to the end."

In other team news, apart from Messi, Barcelona also welcome back Ivan Rakitic, who has recovered from a torn calf, while Real Madrid have Keylor Navas back in action, with Sergio Ramos ready to play through the pain barrier again as he fights a shoulder injury.

While both camps have been quick to dismiss suggestions that this could be a deciding game in the title race, what cannot be denied is that if Barcelona win, they will go six points clear of Real Madrid and the way the La Liga champions are playing, that will be a pretty big deficit to overhaul.

So, Real Madrid cannot afford a loss on this one, while a victory might just be the fillip needed for Benitez and his squad to go all the way and lift the La Liga title in May, something they haven't done in a while, by their own high standards, of course.

Expected lineups: Real Madrid: Navas; Danilo, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Rodriguez; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo.

Barcelona: Bravo; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar.

Where to Watch Live

Get all the Goals and Highlights of the El Clasico HERE

Get the Result and Report HERE

The El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona – the match that everyone wants to see – will begin at 6.15 pm local time (10.45 pm IST, 5.15 pm GMT, 12.15 pm ET). Viewers in India, and the rest of the subcontinent, can flip their remotes to Sony Kix and Sony Six HD to watch the match live on TV, and there is also a live streaming online option available on Sony Liv.

Audience in the UK will be able to watch Barcelona play Real Madrid live on Sky Sports 2, while those with no TVs around, or glued to Manchester City vs Liverpool, can watch the match live online on Sky Go and Watch Sky Sports. Viewers in Spain will be able to watch the Clasico live on Canal+ Liga and Movistar Futbol.

Bein Sports is the place to be if you are watch Real Madrid vs Barcelona in USA, Canada, France, Middle East, North Africa, Australia and Thailand. Bein Sports Connect also gives the option of watching the La Liga blockbuster by live streaming online.

El Clasico will be shown live in China on PPTV Sports, while viewers in Hong Kong can watch Real Madrid vs Barcelona live on Now Sports 2. Viewers in South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa can watch the match live on SuperSport, with the live stream option on SuperSport Live Video.

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