Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: El Clasico 2014 Form Guide, Predictions, Key Players

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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: El Clasico 2014 Form Guide, Predictions, Key Players
Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Table-toppers Real Madrid host Barcelona in El Clasico, looking to extend their lead at the summit of La Liga.

However, Gerardo Martino's men know that they have to win at Santiago Bernabeu if they are to keep their own title hopes alive.

The Catalan club sit third-placed, behind Atletico, with a four-point gap behind Real.

But Carlo Ancelotti's men will also be looking for revenge of Barca's 2-1 win in the reverse fixture.

 

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

 

Form Guide

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

The hosts go into the derby with phenomenal home form, according to statto.com.

Ancelotti's side are unbeaten in their last 10 league fixtures, home and away, scoring 28 goals and conceding just seven strikes.

They have also won 23 percent of their home fixtures and go nine matches without a loss on home turf.

Meanwhile, Barcelona travel to Madrid on very different form, despite a 7-0 victory over Osasuna last time out.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Martino's outfit have lost three of their last 10 matches, with defeats to Real Sociedad and Real Valladolid.

Scoring 31 goals and conceding just 10, the side go into the grudge match on the back of two wins, per statto.

Victory over Osasuna, as well as Champions League success over Manchester City, will give the side plenty of confidence, as will knowledge that they lead the way with away clean sheets in La Liga, with 43 percent, according to statto.

 

Key Players

Gareth Bale

Paul White/Associated Press

Since his summer transfer from Tottenham, Bale has adapted to life in La Liga with ease.

In his 20 league appearances, the Welshman has scored 10 goals and assisted on 11 occasions, per WhoScored.com.

His recent form has been just as impressive, with three goals in his last two matches against Malaga and in Champions League action against Schalke.

Bale was taken off after 61 minutes in Real's 2-1 loss at Camp Nou, per WhoScored.

Paul White/Associated Press

However, the winger proved his desire to perform in Madrid after being brought on as an eighth-minute substitute against the German side, with Jese picking up an injury.

Setting up strikes for Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata, Bale highlighted the danger that he can cause with his runs down the wing, per WhoScored.

This was also backed up by OptaJoe's tweet:

Dani Alves will have to be careful not to be caught out by the former Spurs man as he races down the wing, once again, at the Bernabeu.

 

Neymar

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Barcelona's marquee signing is also undergoing his maiden season in Spain.

The Brazilian winger has also played 20 matches this season, with seven goals and eight assists, according to WhoScored.

But with his side needing a victory to retain hopes of the title, the 22-year-old must do more to encourage victory.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Failing to score or assist in his last four matches shows that more can be done by the youngster, per WhoScored.

In that time, the Catalan outfit scored six goals but succumbed to defeats against Real Sociedad and Real Valladolid.

Neymar is an excellent player on his day, as shown with his hat-trick and assist against Celtic in the Champions League:

But if Barcelona are to retain the La Liga trophy, more must be done by the Brazilian.

 

Predictions

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Real Madrid's excellent home form will make them favourites for this clash.

With the chance to open the gap on their third-placed rivals, Real also know that a win is needed to keep pressure on second-placed Atletico.

Former Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, who played for both Real and Barca, believes that the Catalan club cannot afford to lose at the Bernabeu.

Speaking with Cadena COPE (h/t Goal.com's Enis Koylu), Laudrup also feels that either side could win the fixture, despite home advantage:

Real Madrid are favourites because they are playing at home, but both teams have players who can change the balance game. Real Madrid were behind but now have the chance to knock a rival like Barcelona out of the title race because...a seven-point deficit with nine games would be very complicated.

You have to give Bale and Neymar time, but when you pay so much money for them, patience isn't the word because you pay immediately. They are both good but they have to adapt to Real Madrid and Barcelona's games because. Bale has been injured, but hasn't had a bad year.

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However, home advantage will play an important factor, and with Ronaldo aiming for La Liga's top-scorer title, he will have plenty of reason to net against the old enemy.

Bale's scintillating form will ensure that he keeps up his rate of supplying his team-mates as he looks to cap his first year in Spain with a title win.

Without an away win in their last two matches, Barcelona may be hesitant going into the match of a third successive defeat on the road.

It's up to Martino to turn his side's visiting form around, but with plenty to play for, Real will be sure not to give Barcelona an inch at the Bernabeu.

 

Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Barcelona

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