With eight games of the season remaining, Barcelona all but have the La Liga title sewn up.
They are nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid and 10 ahead of Saturday opponents Real Madrid.
The weekend's El Clasico at the Camp Nou will, as ever, be a huge occasion, but its bearing on the title race is likely to be inconsequential, as even if Real win—and make it six victories on the bounce in all competitions—they will still be seven points back from Barca.
Revenge is likely to be on the minds of the Los Blancos players after they suffered a humiliating 4-0 drubbing at the Santiago Bernabeu in the reverse fixture back in November.
They face a hugely tough task in beating their old rivals, though, with Luis Enrique's men having gone the last 39 matches unbeaten in all competitions.
Zinedine Zidane's side do just hold the historic edge in terms of head-to-head, as shown below by footballzz.com:
|All-Time Clasico Head-to-Head|
|Matches||Real Madrid Win||Draw||Barcelona Win|
|Total||230||92 (40%)||48 (21%)||90 (39%)|
|La Liga||171||71 (42%)||32 (19%)||68 (40%)|
|CL||8||3 (38%)||3 (38%)||2 (25%)|
|Copa del Rey||33||12 (36%)||7 (21%)||14 (42%)|
|Supercopa de Espana||12||6 (50%)||2 (17%)||4 (33%)|
|Copa de la Liga||6||0 (0%)||4 (67%)||2 (33%)|
But Barca's record against Real at the Camp Nou is excellent:
|Clasico Head-to-Head: Barca at Home|
|Matches||Real Madrid Win||Draw||Barcelona Win|
|Total||110||25 (23%)||23 (21%)||62 (56%)|
|La Liga||85||19 (22%)||17 (20%)||49 (58%)|
|CL||4||2 (50%)||1 (25%)||1 (25%)|
|Copa del Rey||12||3 (25%)||2 (17%)||7 (58%)|
|Supercopa de España||6||1 (17%)||1 (17%)||4 (67%)|
|Copa de la Liga||3||0 (0%)||2 (67%)||1 (33%)|
The corresponding fixture last season resulted in a 2-1 victory for Barca.
If Real are to have any chance of prevailing at the home of the Catalan giants this season—and give themselves the smallest sniff of title glory—they will have to stop Barcelona's superlative front three.
|El Clasico Records|
|Biggest win||Real Madrid 11-1 (1943)|
|Most consecutive wins||Six by Real Madrid between 1962 and 1965|
|Longest undefeated run||13 games by Barcelona between 1917 and 1928|
|Top goalscorer||Lionel Messi (21)|
|Most appearances||Francisco Gento (Real), Manuel Sanchis Martinez (Real) and Xavi (Barcelona) with 42|
Bleacher Report's Dean Jones believes Suarez will end up winning the European Golden Boot this season, and he can build on his current haul of 26 by netting again against Real:
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The Uruguayan scored a double in Barca's 4-0 win, a game in which Messi played only 33 minutes as a substitute as he was returning from injury.
Messi is in fine form now and will surely start against Madrid, and his influence will be key.
Not only will the Argentinian be driven on by his desire to push Barca closer to the title, but Messi may also have designs on eclipsing his long-term Real rival Cristiano Ronaldo, per AS:
Last season I didn't perform to my potential and this time round I've improved. It's important to keep on working hard and it's difficult in a foreign country. This season I've been playing better as I've constantly been growing and improving. There's still a long way to go and I hope to continue to help the team.
I was playing very well before I got injured, but injuries are part of it and there's not much you can do about them. I now feel more comfortable and I speak Spanish in the dressing room. The happier you are, the better you perform, but I've got to keep working hard and helping the team.
Per WhoScored, the Welshman has netted 11 times in his last nine appearances for Real and will be a handful for Barcelona's defence on Saturday.
The two men set to be in the dugouts at the Camp Nou are steeped in Clasico history, both Zidane and Enrique having played big roles in the famous clashes as players in the past, per Barca:
Enrique is undoubtedly the favourite to come out on top this time around, and it will be Zidane's first experience of El Clasico as a manager.
However, Real confidence is high following a 4-0 thrashing of Sevilla last time out—Barca's last result was a 2-2 draw against Villarreal—and they will be desperate to claim victory on Saturday to keep themselves in the title race.