Real, Barca renew rivalry in El Clasico

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Updated: March 1, 2013

Just four days after squaring off at Camp Nou
in Copa del Rey action, Real Madrid and Barcelona will renew acquaintances in
La Liga play as the two sides meet at the Bernabeu on Saturday for the latest
installment of El Clasico.

Real picked up a 3-1 win over the Catalans on Tuesday to advance to the Copa
del Rey final.

“It was a great match for us,” said Cristiano Ronaldo. “We played very well
from the first to the last minute, we concentrated very well. We had a great
attitude and played better. To score three goals here is very tough. I give
the congratulations to the team because we had an amazing match.”

Ronaldo scored twice in the second leg, giving the Portuguese star a head of
steam for a crucial week that also includes a Champions League tie against
Manchester United at Old Trafford.

“Playing against Barcelona always gives you extra motivation,” he continued.
“We have a home match and we have to keep going as we are. In the league
Barcelona have a big advantage and in the Champions League we will go out to
try to win, as we always do.”

With the La Liga title all but conceded to Barcelona, there is growing
speculation that only a Champions League title can save Jose Mourinho’s job.
And with a massive return match against United looming, it would be fair to
wonder how strong of a team Mourinho will deploy against Barcelona at the
weekend.

Mourinho already has shown that he has one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League
clash. When the Real boss was denied the Friday fixture spot for El Clasico,
he pressed to schedule the clash as early as possible on Saturday to give his
team more time to recover for the United tilt.

Real Madrid really has nothing to gain or lose in Saturday’s tussle with
Barcelona. The Merengues come into the weekend in third place, four points
behind second-place Atletico Madrid and 16 points adrift of first-place
Barcelona.

With Real placing greater importance on the Copa del Rey final against
Atletico and the Champions League elimination match against United, this
weekend’s El Clasico may have a more tame feeling.

In the race for fourth place in La Liga, Valencia is going blow-for-blow with
Malaga in a race to claim the final Champions League qualification spot.
Valencia returns to action on Saturday with a derby match against Levante at
the Mestalla while Malaga welcomes Atletico to La Rosaleda on Sunday.

Also on Saturday, Deportivo aims to avoid a seventh straight league defeat
when it welcomes Rayo Vallecano to the Riazor and Athletic Bilbao looks to
snap a three-game losing skid when it heads to El Sadar to take on Osasuna.

On Sunday, Granada and Mallorca hope to overturn their respective two-game
slides when they meet at Los Carmenes, Espanyol hopes to get back to winning
ways with maximum points against Valladolid and Real Betis attempts to jump
ahead of Real Sociedad with a win at the Anoeta.

Monday’s lone La Liga fixture sees Sevilla welcome Celta Vigo to the Estadio
Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, while Friday’s only match in Spain’s top flight saw
Getafe claim a 2-0 win over Real Zaragoza.