Real Madrid take on Barcelona knowing a victory could create a seven-point gap between the title chasers and the third-placed Catalan club.
Carlo Ancelotti's men hold a three-point gap over second-placed rivals Atletico Madrid, and they are hunting a 10th consecutive home win at the Bernabeu, per WhoScored.com.
Barcelona got back to winning ways with a 7-0 thumping of Osasuna last time out, and they won 2-1 against Real in the reverse fixture earlier this season:
When: Sunday, March 23 at 8 p.m. GMT/4 p.m. ET
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
TV Info: Sky Sports
Live Stream: Sky Sports app
Cristiano Ronaldo Leads Top-Scorer Charts
If Real Madrid are to bag the league title, they will have to hope Ronaldo keeps himself in the goals. The Portuguese winger currently leads the La Liga top-scorers list with 25 strikes, per ESPN FC.
|La Liga: Top Scorers|
|1||Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||25|
|2||Diego Costa||Atletico Madrid||22|
|5||Karim Benzema||Real Madrid||15|
|6||Antoine Griezmann||Real Sociedad||15|
|8||David Villa||Atletico Madrid||13|
|9||Javi Guerra||Real Valladolid||13|
Atletico's Diego Costa and Barcelona's Lionel Messi sit second and third respectively with 10 league matches to go.
Ronaldo is central to his side's hopes of regaining the league title, and as tweeted by Sky Sports News, he has plenty of motivation to keep finding the back of the net:
The 29-year-old has already broken a Champions League record this season, after his two goals surpassed Ferenc Puskas' Madrid record against Schalke, per Goal.com.
Ronaldo and Co. know that they can move a giant step closer to the title with a win over Barcelona, but they must still square off against Atletico on the final day of the season.
The forward has scored in his last three league matches—and his last six in all competitions, per WhoScored.
Ronaldo was visibly frustrated not to complete a hat-trick in the midweek clash with Schalke. It would be no surprise to see him take out that frustration on Barca.
Barca's Title Defence on the Line
Barcelona's 7-0 rout of Osasuna was just their third league win in the last five matches.
A horror spell of defeats against Real Sociedad and Valladolid put a dent in the club's title hopes and another against Madrid would surely leave them out of the reckoning.
However, Champions League victory over Manchester City and the seven-goal haul at Camp Nou has helped to restore belief.
Speaking with Barca TV (h/t Goal.com's Stefan Coerts), visiting striker Pedro says his team are in good form but admits that they cannot afford to lose at the Bernabeu:
A defeat would make it tough to pull ourselves back into the title race. But we are coming into the game in a good run of form and we know it’s all to play for there. We all want to put in a great performance and keep our treble hopes alive.
Madrid might just be favourites because they are playing at home, but we know in this type of game there are never clear favourites at all - anything can happen.
Pedro added that his side must be patient on Real's turf and look to employ their trademark brand of flowing football:
They have very quick players up front and they will be waiting for us to give the ball away so that they can hit us hard on the break. We have to be aware of their strengths and their style of play and use that to exploit our own strong points. Our idea is to move the ball quickly.
Barcelona need to record victory at the Bernabeu to not only close the gap on Real but also put them level with Atletico. The second-placed club take on bottom-of-the-table Real Betis next time out.
Messi and Andres Iniesta both sparkled in the 7-0 thumping of Osasuna, and there is no doubt that Barca's brand of possession football is the perfect antidote to Real's explosive counter-attack.
The Catalan club's run-in includes matches with struggling Betis and Getafe, as well as Europa League-chasing Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal.
Meanwhile, Real are yet to face European hopefuls Sevilla and Real Sociedad, so the pressure is on for both sides to avoid defeat in El Clasico.
According to Footballzz.com, Real have beaten Barcelona 70 times in La Liga, losing 65 encounters. Another 32 have been drawn.
At the Bernabeu, records lean even more heavily in Madrid's favour, winning 51 and losing only 17.
More recently, the last five league matches have seen Ronaldo's men win two, Messi's side triumph twice and one draw.
There have also been two red cards in the last six meetings, per Soccerbase, with 28 yellow cards.