Former Real Madrid player and manager Jorge Valdano has labelled Sunday's Clasico between Los Blancos and Barcelona as "a race of the lame" given both clubs "are going through hard times."
The top-of-the table clash at the Santiago Bernabeu is set to play a decisive role in the La Liga title race because Barca and Real are separated by just two points:
However, neither side goes into the fixture in the best shape.
Despite his reservations, Valdano told Onda Cero that he is still confident in the appeal of Spain's biggest fixture (h/t Goal's Stephen Crawford):
"This Clasico is a race of the lame. Barca and Madrid are going through hard times. Barcelona's recovery [in La Liga] is only down to Real Madrid. It's their bad form that has strengthened Barca's position.
"There are many people that said after [Wednesday's] match [against Manchester City] that they won't come on Sunday to avoid the suffering of a defeat but it is a Clasico match, all wounds will be cured. There are many experienced players at Real Madrid and they're playing at home."
Barcelona have recently replaced manager Ernesto Valverde with Quique Setien and had Lionel Messi involved in a public spat with sporting director Eric Abidal. Meanwhile, both Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez are sidelined through injury, and they could only scrape a draw against Napoli in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday:
Despite all that, the Catalans managed to move above Real in the table on Saturday after they beat Eibar 5-0 and Los Blancos fell to a 1-0 loss against Levante. Zinedine Zidane's side also had a disappointing midweek result in the last 16 of the Champions League, losing 2-1 at home to Manchester City:
There is a danger given how tight the situation is at the top of the table that Sunday's match could play out in the same way as the reverse fixture at the Camp Nou in December, which finished 0-0.
A draw would not dent either side's hopes of winning the title this term, but a defeat, especially for Real, could prove fatal.