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FC Barcelona News: 23 March 2014; El Clasico Mere Hours Away, Martin Montoya Agrees to New Contract

21-man squad for ‘El Clásico’ | FC Barcelona
Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has named a 21-man squad for Sunday’s game against Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabéu, kick-off 9 pm. Gerard Piqué is back in the squad after missing the last match against Osasuna. However, defensive partner and team captain Carles Puyol is still recovering from his knee problem and will miss the clash.

Tata Martino: "It’s our last chance to win the league" | FC Barcelona
"It’s probably our last chance to win the league. There are nine games left after this Sunday’s game and it’s not the same to catch up one point than four or seven. It’d be really tough to make up seven points. Or even four! Not because we’re not capable of doing it but because there are very few points left to play for and teams don’t tend to slip up so much at this stage of the season".

Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona - Did you know? | FC Barcelona
Barça needs to close the four-point gap that separates them from top spot in the league and is obliged to go for a win in the ‘clásico’ this Sunday in the Santiago Bernabéu (9 pm, Canal+1). Here are some of the background facts to the big game.

FC Barcelona arrive in Madrid for The Clasico | FC Barcelona
Barça have arrived in Madrid after the squad accompanied by the Club President, landed at Barajas airport at 11.40 this morning. Once in the Spanish capital, the squad travelled to the team hotel ahead of tonight’s nine o’clock kick off.

Martín Montoya extends deal until 2018 | FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona and right back Martín Montoya have reached an agreement to extend his contract until the end of the 2017/2018 season. The new deal will have a buy-out clause of 20 million euros. The two parties will put pen to paper in the next few weeks.

Bernabeu Goals (4): Maradona’s touch of genius in 1983 | FC Barcelona
A work of art produced by Diego Armando Maradona on 26th June 1983 is today’s choice to sit alongside goals by Gerard Piqué, Xavi Hernández and Leo Messi. Football writer Ramon Besa highlights "the ball control, the calm and the ability to dribble around the goalkeeper and the defender" as Maradona goes past Agustín and Juan José to prompt the Madrid fans to give him a standing ovation.

Bernabeu goal (5): Ronaldinho magic in 2005 | FC Barcelona
The last goal we’re going to highlight before this evening’s game at the Bernabéu is the 0-2 that Ronaldinho scored on 20 November 2005. FC Barcelona defeated Real Madrid by 0-3 that evening thanks to goals from Eto’o and the Brazilian, who scored a brace. The 0-2, however, is still remembered for its beauty.

Homegrown stars to the fore in this clasico by Graham Hunter - ESPN FC
For Real Madrid, this has been a week where any tension over the clasico has been defused by a huge outpouring of sympathy and support for Jese, their home-bred tyro whose damaged ligaments will rob him of the next nine months. Spain is a very different footballing culture from Scotland and England where I grew up and began my journalistic work.

Ramos: Barcelona have lost fear factor - Yahoo Eurosport UK
"People talk of crisis at Barca but they’re in the Cup final, the quarter finals of the Champions League and they’re four points behind the League leaders," Ramos argued. "What has changed is the fear other teams had of them."

Barça B - Alavés: come from behind victory for the Blagurana (2-1) | FC Barcelona
B once again won at the Miniestadi, this time against Alavés. The team managed by Eusebio Sacristán managed to fight back from a one-goal deficit thanks to goals from Sandro and Denis Suárez. With 44 points, the reserve team are now sixth, and next week they will host league leaders, Eibar.

Athletic on course for Europe |
Athletic Bilbao tightened their grip on fourth spot in the Primera Division with a narrow 1-0 victory over Getafe. Markel Susaeta hit the only goal of the game in the 39th minute, and although Athletic were easily the better side, they were unable to extend their lead.

Sevilla build on Europa win | Sky Sports Football
Jairo Samperio opened the scoring midway through the first half with a fine individual goal, and Carlos Bacca doubled the lead from the penalty spot just before half-time in a highly controversial incident, which saw Osasuna coach Javi Gracia sent away from his dugout for protesting the decision.

No goals at Espanyol | Sky Sports Football
Espanyol and Levante played out a goalless draw which suggested that neither of them will be in Europe next season. The pair could not be more mid-table and had both highlighted this as a game to win if a late run for a Europa League place was to materialise.

Granada boost prospects | Sky Sports Football
Granada moved a step closer to securing their Primera Division status for another season with a 1-0 win over 10-man Elche at Los Carmenes. Yacine Brahimi's strike midway through the second half settled the contest in favour of Granada, who made it three home victories on the bounce following their successes over Villarreal and Real Betis.

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