Tuesday, 25 April, 2017

Ramos and Pique rivalry underlines Clasico tension

Messi eyeing 500 as Barca bid to reignite season in Clasico Ramos and Pique rivalry underlines Clasico tension
Kristopher Love | 21 April, 2017, 19:42

Nevertheless, the visitors will surely be able to get on the scoresheet as they have done in each of the last 22 Clasicos, with the last time Barca failed to net against Madrid in La Liga coming back in 2007.

Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos and Barcelona's Gerard Pique share a rivalry every bit as intense as that between their teams. However, a Barcelona win would move them level on points and therefore, ramp up the pressure on the league leaders.

While Real Madrid could be missing Gareth Bale, Raphael Varane and Pepe, Barcelona will certainly be without the suspended Neymar and his absence will be a major blow for the visitors.

The Spaniard is a lifelong Real Madrid fan and was promised the ceremonial honour at the iconic Estadio Santiago Bernabeu by the club after his first major victory. Bale, the hero for Madrid in the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, has scored nine goals and recorded three assists this season, his fewest at this point since joining the club in 2013-14. I'm not going to deny that we have become accustomed to it. "We need the three points", Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic said. "Even if we are not in our best moment, I believe we can go there and win".

But on Sunday, all eyes will be on El Clasico.

There will be no guard of honour on Sunday-it's still too early for that-but a Madrid win might effectively seal yet another league title, and a long overdue one at that.

The Catalans contested the decision as they feel both the player and the club have an impeccable disciplinary record - it was the first dismissal in a Blaugrana shirt for the Brazil worldwide and a first in La Liga for his team since October 2015.

That stunning result eventually led to the replacement of coach Rafa Benitez by Zinedine Zidane, the former Madrid and France great who had never held a head-coaching job. The Bianconeri played a style of football that is suited to them and did it very well.

"I don't think it needs repeating that he is an important player", Rakitic told La Liga World.