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Atletico Madrid are still out in front, but the gap is now one point to Lionel Messi’s side, with Los Blancos just two points further back.
Zinedine Zidane’s side enter the contest on a high after pulling off an emphatic victory over Liverpool to take control of their Champions League quarter-final.
One of the keys to the game will be Messi’s impact after six straight blanks in the Clasico since Cristiano Ronaldo departed for Juventus, but Ronald Koeman is confident the Argentine can snap that streak to inspire the Blaugrana: “I hope that Messi can prove decisive because we need him to play at his best and for Barca to also show its best version. For our attack, our passing game, and to create scoring chances, we need Leo.”
While Karim Benzema, who has 18 La Liga goals, five less than Messi (23), believes Real’s pressing will be key to the game’s outcome: “When we press, we have to go all out. And when we have the ball, we have to develop good possessions, because they don’t like chasing the ball.”