Real Madrid to host Barcelona

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:51 IST

Real Madrid play host to their great Spanish rivals Barcelona on Sunday knowing only a win will give them any realistic hope of staying in the title race.

Madrid:

Real Madrid will play host to their great Spanish rivals Barcelona on Sunday knowing only a win will give them any realistic hope of staying in the title race. The Castillan giants trail their Catalan arch-rivals by nine points in the Spanish Primera League with eight games left. Anything less than three points for Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday will hand the La Liga title to Barca. Despite being the first Spanish champions in 1928/29, Barca have not won their domestic league since 1998/99 and they will be looking to build on their lead despite missing suspended Portugal midfielder Deco. Zidane returns Meanwhile, Real welcome back Zinedine Zidane from suspension and David Beckham from injury, but centre back Walter Samuel and midfielder Guti are both suspended for a match they have to win if they are to have any chance of salvaging a desperately disappointing season. Star striker Ronaldo, who has scored just one goal in the last 11 league games, would love to end his barren spell in a win over Barcelona. After making a decision whether to start with the hopelessly out-of-form Raul or Michael Owen, who has scored 10 league goals from just 12 starts this season, Real's main worry will be how to stop Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o. The African Player of the Year, who has notched up 21 goals this season, has an outstanding record against his former side and was the architect of the Catalans' classy three-nil win over Real at the Nou Camp earlier this season. Worries for Barca However, Barca are missing suspended Portugal midfielder Deco and could also be without skipper Carles Puyol, who is recovering from an ankle injury. But Mexican midfielder Rafael Marquez returns after suspension and Ronaldinho is expected to shake off a stomach complaint. Despite these problem's Barca are in the driving seat and midfielder Xavi Fernadez knows that all the pressure is on Real - whoever they play up front. Real Madrid versus Barcelona is one of the greatest clashes in world soccer and given the importance of Sunday's game with respect to the Spanish league title, it should be a memorable. (AP)

Topics : Football Bayern Munchen
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