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El Clasico: Lionel Messi's Barcelona Seeks Death Blow vs. Real Madrid

Barcelona are in form and ready to land a huge punch in La Liga against an out-of-form Real Madrid. But will Los Blancos present more resistance than some think?

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Barcelona are on a rampage. Luis Suarez assists and scores with ease. Neymar still has a ton of tricks up his sleeve. Ivan Rakitic does it all. Gerard Pique is on song. And then there's Lionel Messi.

It took the match of Joe Hart's life for Manchester City just to lose with dignity in the Champions League.

On the other hand, we have Real Madrid. A bit wobbly, even when winning. A 2-0 win at home against puny Levante isn't going to calm many nerves. Cristiano Ronaldo is visibly upset and his form has dipped. Gareth Bale showed signs of life but is hardly on his best form. Even though perhaps the worst has passed, with the return of key players such as Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos, this is not a vintage side at the moment.

Barcelona are the favorites for the Clasico, doubly so at home. Already there's talk of dealing a death blow to Madrid's title chances.

In fact, Barcelona don't even really need to win, being that they're ahead in the table. A draw wouldn't be too shabby would it?

Just a second.

This is in some way a great situation for Real Madrid. They're on a resurgence, even if they're not anywhere near the summit again. A team with so many talents is bound to bounce back up at some point. Madrid have more rest, with a kinder schedule not giving them a CL opponent in midweek and a kind draw not giving them a particularly tough one to begin with. The Blaugrana will also be without Sergio Busquets, one of their best players.

Could a specter of overconfidence hurt Barcelona?

Let's focus on the fact that while Barcelona lead the league, it's by the slimmest of margins. And Barcelona still have, quite notably, Sevilla away, Valencia at home, and Atletico Madrid away left to play. Those are teams number 5, 3, and 4 still left, and two away from the Camp Nou.

By comparison, Real Madrid only have Valencia at home, Sevilla away and 7th-placed Malaga at home left to play among the top 7, after the Clasico. It's conceivable that even with a loss, Madrid could prevail if Barcelona, like last season, fails to defeat other teams.

This could become a turning point for Madrid's season if they perform, which is why Barcelona must be alert. However, if the Barcelona truly reach their operatic highs, if Messi dominates, if Suarez finishes... then it could become the moment when this team start to become legendary.

Which will it be?

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