Barcelona v Real Madrid Preview

Barcelona v Real Madrid Preview


Pep Guardiola is still sweating on the fitness of Lionel Messi ahead of El Clasico with Real Madrid.
The Barcelona coach however believes his side can win with or without the Argentina winger.
Messi picked up a thigh injury in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao and was missing as Barca beat Inter Milan 2-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
"I will decide tomorrow whether Messi plays or not," Guardiola said.
"I would rather he is playing than not playing, of course, but we can beat Real Madrid with or without Messi."
Zlatan Ibrahimovic also faces a race against the clock to be fit as he recovers from a muscle problem picked up in Barca's 4-2 win at home to Mallorca a fortnight ago.
Yaya Toure could also return after recovering from a bout of swine flu, but Gabi Milito is still on the way back from a long-term knee injury.
Barca led the Primera Division until last weekend's draw in Bilbao, which saw them drop to second, a point behind Madrid.
"There is a general consensus that we are the better team, that we play more attractive football, but they are the ones who are leaders," Guardiola said.
And the former Barca captain knows Manuel Pellegrini's side poses the biggest threat yet to his side's perfect league record at the Nou Camp.
"They have only let in four goals away from home and historically, they have always come here to win," he added.
"I can't imagine they will come here and sit back, they will look to dominate and try and beat us."
Pellegrini confirmed that Madrid will set out to attack.
"We are going to the Nou Camp to attack. We will play with our weapons, which are different to those of Barcelona, but which are just as good as theirs," he said today.
Pellegrini praised Guardiola's Barca side, but claimed the Catalans are not the better of the two teams.
"Pep Guardiola's team plays football very well and has a lot of quality, but they are not superior to us," he said.
"We wouldn't be happy with a draw, we know exactly what we are going to do at the Nou Camp."
Pellegrini will make a last-minute decision on centre-back Raul Albiol, who has been struggling with a knee ligament strain picked up against Zurich in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Christoph Metzelder, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Guti are all sidelined.
One player likely to start tomorrow night is Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portugal winger was recently sidelined for almost two months, but made his long-awaited comeback in the 1-0 win over Zurich, playing 20 minutes.
"There is no set amount of time for Cristiano to play at the Nou Camp, so let's see how long he plays," Pellegrini added.
Barcelona won the corresponding fixture 2-0 last season, thanks to late goals from Samuel Eto'o and Messi, in what was the first game in Juande Ramos' brief reign as Madrid coach.



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