Barca, Real ready for season-ending battles

Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are preparing for four fixtures against each other in the space of 18 days.Should Barcelona claim the first Clasico on Sunday at the Bernabeu – a league match – then the Catalans will most likely seal their third consecutive title.

Pep Guardiola’s side, who defeated Jose Mourinho’s men 5-0 earlier in the season, currently hold an eight point advantage over Real at the top of La Liga.

Their second meeting will be in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday, and then in the semi-finals of the Champions League over two legs.

Former Real Madrid coach and current Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque dismissed the title race was over, insisting last week’s results proved Barcelona could still be pipped to the crown.

“It’s true that in La Liga there’s an eight point difference between Barcelona and Real Madrid and that everything seems to be over,” he said.

“But I always say “it seems” because last Sunday, for instance, Almeria were about to defeat Barcelona.”

“It seemed like an easy game for Barcelona and they found it difficult to win, whereas Real Madrid’s game at Bilbao seemed difficult and they won easily.”

Del Bosque does not believe the heavy schedule will compromise the performance of both sides.

“Both teams have sufficient resources to win the three competitions. Barcelona have been a bit more solid, that’s why they’re eight points clear, but they’re both very efficient even though they have different styles and different players.”

The former Real Madrid coach reckons the previous El Clasico, in which Barcelona romped to a resounding win, would not have had a telling effect on either side.

“I don’t think that the 5-0 will have any influence on the game. That result happened some months ago and there’s no aftermath anymore… Barcelona won’t feel more confident for that 5-0, and Real Madrid won’t be afraid either, after the 5-0 loss”.

He also weighed in on the Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo duel, noting that the differences between the two players made it hard to compare them.

“Cristiano and Messi are the stars of each team, and in addition to it they mark the style of the team. I don’t want to make it overly simple, but those long transitions that Madrid play fit Cristiano’s game. On the other hand, Messi’s combinative style is also Barcelona’s trademark.”