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FC Barcelona News: 21 April 2012; Barca prepare for El Clasico

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Clasico day is upon us, and as one might expect, there are plenty of stories on the big match. Both Pep Guardiola and Aitor Karanka gave us some good quotes in their press conferences, although the fact remains that the latter is awfully mundane about everything. Whether Jose Mourinho's reluctance to speak out indicates that the Special One is feeling the pressure remains to be seen. Elsewhere, a couple of former stars give us their thoughts on the match, while L'Equipe have dedicated their weekly magazine to the Blaugrana. Also, it'd be great to see Rijkaard back in club football under Cruyff at Chivas.

This time they’re as good as playing for the league title. If Barça win, they’ll get within a point of the leaders with just four games to play. But a draw (which would leave the current four point difference intact) and a Madrid win (which would increase the difference to seven points) would leave Josep Guardiola’s side in a very difficult situation indeed. At what is certain to be a packed Camp Nou, much of the league title is set to be decided.

Guardiola is very clear that FC Barcelona must win tomorrow: "our only option is to win, we have a very small chance and we must try to take it. If it doesn’t work out we’ll have a new champion and we’ll regroup and prepare well for next season. It wasn’t too long ago that we were very far from the leaders. Now we’re in a luxurious position after gaining a bit of ground, frankly we had not imagined [that we’d be this close]. We have the chance to prolong the competition."

Graham Hunter -- So many El Clasico questions after Barca and Real underwhelm in Europe -- La Liga - ESPN

Both Barcelona and Real Madrid misfired in midweek. That will make Guardiola and his divine group of players more determined not only to beat Madrid, but to put on a convincing show. If the midweek hiccup and the cost of defeat make Madrid less daring and less audacious than it has been for much of this season, it will be a pity. Because this Clasico, if Madrid could win it in style, has the potential to lend a sheen of majesty to the Mourinho era, something it has thus far lacked.

Karanka predicts 'great' El Clasico - 7M sport

"Well, I think this game has all the ingredients to be great. There are two excellent teams, the stadium will have the atmosphere, there will be millions of people watching... So I hope everything will pass off without a bad incident and that, at the end, all the people watching the game will be satisfied that those ingredients will finally come together to make a great match."

The 18 available first-team players, as well as 3 Barça B footballers that travelled to London, Bartra, Montoya and Tello, trained on the Camp Nou’s pitch. After the session, Josep Guardiola explained that Alexis Sánchez, "very doubtful for tomorrow’s match," trained apart from the group after receiving a knock during the match at Stamford Bridge. Therefore, the only confirmed absences against Madrid are Villa, Fontàs and Abidal.

Former Barcelona players Rexach and Salinas confident of victory against Real Madrid in Clasico -

"Barcelona will start the Clasico at a fast pace and the pressure will be on Madrid," he told Mundo Deportivo. Another defeat would hit them hard, especially after losing in the Champions League semi-finals [to Bayern Munich]. Barca have only the option, which is to win the match. If Madrid wins or draws the league is over."

Historic special edition on FC Barcelona from L’Équipe Magazine | FC Barcelona

This week’s edition of the French publication’s special offers a glimpse into the Club with interviews with Sandro Rosell, Xavi Hernández and Johan Cruyff. But the scope of the story goes beyond individuals; the Club’s gastronomy, explained by famous chef and Barça fan Ferran Adrià, and the first famous Frenchman to play for Barça, Lucien Muller, also feature prominently in this week’s edition.

Football | La Liga | Mallorca call on fans to ignore El Clasico |

Nunes told the club's website: "I would like to see everyone. In the years I've been here we know that the fans have responded. I think that the priority for Mallorca fans is to be with us because it is important. They can record or watch highlights of the Clasico. Moreover, it would be lovely for us all to celebrate together."

Former Barcelona boss Rijkaard lined up by Chivas -

However, Rijkaard was always the preferred candidate of Blaugrana legend Johann Cruyff, who it was confirmed earlier this week had replaced Rafael Ortega as Chivas' head of sporting operations. Former Netherlands international Rijkaard won two La Liga titles and one Champions League during his time in charge of Barca before leaving Camp Nou in 2008

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