EURO ROUND UP Barca on a high ahead of ‘Clasico’
La Liga and King’s Cup champions Barcelona will be flying high when they host Real Madrid tomorrow in the ‘Clasico’ but their arch rivals will be feeling equally smug after reaching the Champions League final for a third year in a row.
After clinching a seventh league title in 10 years last Sunday, Barcelona’s only incentive is to finish the La Liga season without losing a game.
Third-placed Real’s motivation, however, is to leapfrog Atletico Madrid, who hold a four-point advantage but have played one more game.
There will be plenty of tension on the pitch in Sunday’s eagerly anticipated fixture.
Barca will be keen to further cement their domestic hegemony over Madrid and extend their gap over them to 18 points, which would be the biggest gap they have ever held over their rivals.
Zinedine Zidane’s side can avenge December’s humiliating 3-0 home defeat by Barca by snapping the Catalans’ Liga record of 42 games without defeat.
Zidane has already angered Barca by declaring his side will not give the newly crowned champions a guard of honour before kickoff, a gesture the Catalans did carry out in 2008 when Madrid had won the title.
Sunday’s game is also the first ‘Clasico’ since 2008 to take place after the title race has been decided.
Real have had a disappointing Liga campaign and could finish third for the first time in four years. But their domestic woes have not stopped them from storming into the Champions League final with a 4-3 aggregate win over Bayern Munich. In contrast Barca crashed out of Europe to AS Roma in the quarterfinals.
Barcelona’s talismanic striker, Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal