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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Resolute defence can earn Barcelona a point at Bernabeu

Real Madrid must not rest on laurels of Club World Cup win

Lionel Messi has been in customary flying form for Barcelona
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La Liga
Sky Sports Football, midday Saturday

Draws have been a rare commodity in recent El Clasico matches with only one of the last 13 finishing all-square but there may be little to choose between the sides at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid desperately need a win to reduce the 11-point gap to the leaders but they go into the contest in good spirits after lifting the Club World Cup with a 1-0 victory over South American champions Gremio.

It was Real's fifth trophy in 2017, following their Champions League, La Liga, European Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup successes, and their third win in the global competition, drawing them level with Barcelona.

However, Real cannot afford to rest on their laurels or it could be a case of a trophy feast giving way to a famine.

They have lacked consistency in domestic and European matches this season and face a massive challenge when taking on Paris St-Germain in the Champions League round of 16.

Winning La Liga already looks unlikely and there is an onus on them to go all out for the three points against Barca.

However, this is also a match which neither side will want to lose and Barcelona are not going to want to give an inch as they wrap up their 2017 schedule.

The summer departure of Neymar has not impacted them as much as they feared with Lionel Messi leading the La Liga scoring charts on 14 goals and Luis Suarez netting six goals in his last five league games.

And their defence has also played a crucial role with Barca conceding just seven goals in 16 league matches.

Clean sheets have been kept in ten of their last 13 games and another disciplined performance can ensure they leave the Bernabeu with their unbeaten status intact.

1pt 3-1 BetBright, Betfred, BoyleSports

Bet on this match at

La Liga standings

Team news
Real Madrid
Raphael Varane has recovered from injury and Casemiro and Sergio Ramos are available after suspensions.

Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti, Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu remain injured.

Key stat
Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 24 matches.

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Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 24 matches
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