Pitchside Europe

European Match of the Weekend: Kaka’s crucial Clasico


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Real Madrid playmaker Kaka is hoping he gets another chance to impress in the latest Clasico, as Barcelona visit the Bernabeu on Saturday.

Despite his global reputation, Kaka has been something of an outsider in Madrid, his career hampered by injuries and the purchases of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil, whose dynamic styles have rendered the former Milan star somewhat redundant.

But after some fine recent performances (including a match-winning turn against Deportivo) and with Real boss Jose Mourinho keeping one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Manchester United, Kaka has been tipped to start the Liga clash.

"The coach hasn't said who will play yet. He will decide tomorrow. If I play, it could be a good opportunity for me," Kaka said.

"It could be a chance to show that in important games, like a 'Clasico', I can still make an important contribution to the team."

The 2007 World Player of the Year has only started four games in La Liga this season and he continues to live in the shadows at a club who signed him from Milan amidst high expectations for around 65 million euros in 2009.

A string of injuries hindered him when he first arrived in Spain and since then the 29-year-old has dropped down the pecking order behind the likes of Germany midfielder Ozil and even Croatia's Luka Modric.

"It hasn't been easy," he said. "I have been a professional for 11 years, seven or eight of those as a regular starter at club level and in the national team.

"To pass from being a protagonist to being, in inverted commas, a ‘normal’ player, is tough, but it has helped me to mature on a personal and professional level."

Real crushed holders Barca 3-1 at the Nou Camp on Tuesday to set up a Copa del Rey final with Atletico Madrid, and Kaka said the manner of their victory had been a morale-boost to the team.

Real built on a 1-1 home draw from the first leg in the Cup semi-final, the same result they take to United next week.

"Tuesday gave us a lot of confidence," he added. "Now we need to look to reduce the advantage Barca have on us from 16 to 13 points. We aren't motivated to try and push them into a crisis, only of winning each game.

"The team has proved they can get results wherever it may be, at the Nou Camp or Old Trafford. Let's see if tomorrow we can get a bit more confidence."

Since falling out of favour at the Bernabeu, Kaka has been linked with moves to England and France, with Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain supposedly keen.

But talking of his own future with Real and of the next World Cup in Brazil, Kaka gave little away.

"I have two years left on my contract," Kaka, who learnt English in recent years, said. "I am happy to continue at Real, but I don't want to be a problem for the club. If I have to go, I will go.

"I don't know if I will get back into the national team, but I have to be prepared. I would love to return. There is still time."

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Barcelona and Real Madrid head-to-head as of 01.03.13

Live matches on Eurosport-Yahoo! this weekend

Saturday 2nd March

Real Madrid v Barcelona 15:00

AC Milan v Lazio 19:45

Sunday 3rd March

Catania v Inter Milan 14:00

Hoffenheim v Bayern Munich 14:30

Malaga v Atletico Madrid 18:00

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