Barcelona returns to Bernabeu with title race on the line

James Rodriguez

A win will see Madrid move six points clear at the top of the table, with a game in hand over the champions.

Barcelona maintain the slimmest hopes of freeing up Neymar to play in Sunday's Clasico against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. That Barcelona was eliminated from the Champions League on Wednesday, failing to overcome a 3-0 first-leg deficit against Juventus, makes the clash even more crucial for the Catalan club. It will be as special as ever and it's a marvelous stimulus: a key game against the leader, a direct opponent. "What has happened is already behind us and the important thing is to improve together, in the way we always do".

Neymar served one of the three-games after missing the win over Real Sociedad last Saturday.

They effectively sealed their title with a late victor by Cristiano Ronaldo, who celebrated by mischievously gesturing the 99,000 Barcelona supporters inside the Nou Camp to calm down. Messi is La Liga's leading scorer with 29, five more than teammate Luis Suarez.

"I remember my first one when we went to the Nou Camp, when we came onto the pitch, the whistles, the sound of the whistles was unbelievable", Alonso told CNN about playing for Real at Barcelona. "On Sunday there's another big match, and we'll go there to compete and try and win".

"Knowing the situation we are in, we go to Madrid wanting to win that game", he said.

They have won the latter trophy eight times since that year, and they have won the league 26 times since '58, but they have never managed it in the same season.

FC Barcelona, plausibly the best football club in the world, may not be peerless or at the peak of their powers, but it would be a folly to write them off at your own peril, reckons Spanish legend and former Real Madrid ace Michel Salgado.

Indeed, his role in winning two Champions Leagues in the past three seasons was rewarded with a massive new five-year contract reportedly worth £600,000 a week back in October. Well, Andre Gomes has not filled the gaps, and when he plays (at times) it appears as if he creates them.

Since then, Barcelona has won three titles and Atletico Madrid one. The semifinal draw takes place on Friday, when we'll know whether there's another chance for an all-Madrid final.

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