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El Clasico 2017: Three key clashes for Barcelona and Real Madrid

It’s win or bust for Luis Enrique’s men on Sunday

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Barcelona head to Real Madrid on Sunday night for the final El Clasico of the season and with the opportunity to reignite their title hopes in a simply huge game for both sides.

Barca will be hoping to bounce back from their midweek Champions League disappointment with all three points, and here are three areas they need to shine...

Lionel Messi v Clasico scoring drought

Goals are never a problem for Lionel Messi, he’s the top scorer in the Champions League and La Liga this season as well as the Clasico’s greatest ever goalscorer but curiously hasn’t managed one against Real Madrid for over three years.

Messi scored two last time out in La Liga against Sociedad, meaning he is just two short of 500 Barcelona goals and would love nothing more than to bring up than landmark against los Blancos, at the Bernabeu.

With Neymar likely missing, Barca need Messi at his brilliant best and Madrid do have problems in defence.

Pepe and Raphael Varane are both out injured meaning Nacho will again partner Sergio Ramos at centre-back in front of Keylor Navas who has failed to shine this season.

Navas hasn’t kept a clean sheet for Madrid since January and in such a must-win game for Barcelona, another shut-out looks unlikely.

The last time Messi did score in El Clasico, he grabbed all three in a 4-3 win - another hat-trick would do nicely on Sunday.

The Barcelona defence v the BBC

Luis Enrique will probably go for three at the back and so Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano will all likely be charged with stopping the Madrid attack.

Gareth Bale is a doubt for the match but should start, which may be a relief, the Welshman has struggled to find his best form since returning from a long lay-off, while Isco has thrived in recent weeks.

Cristiano Ronaldo is also in decent goalscoring form and Barca will need to be far stronger than against Sociedad last weekend where the defence looked incredibly fragile.

An improved showed against Juventus in midweek will have surely increased confidence though and Barca must now take that momentum to the Bernabeu.

Luis Suarez v Sergio Ramos

It’s now four games without a goal for Luis Suarez but what better place to end his mini goal drought than at the Bernabeu?

Despite having 19 shots on goal against Juventus in midweek, Barca managed just one on target, and will have to be far more clinical against Madrid.

Suarez has been guilty of missing chances this season but will surely relish his battle with Ramos.

The Uruguayan found the back of the net in the clash at Camp Nou earlier this season, and knows exactly what it takes to score against los Blancos.

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