Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: 3 things that will shape the outcome of El Clasico

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The eyes of the football world will turn toward Barcelona this weekend, as another edition of El Clasico looms large.

There's not too much doubting that Barcelona go into the game as slight favourites, but the biggest game of the La Liga season doesn't often use current form as a guideline.

The outcome of this one could be a huge indicator of where this season's league title ends up, so we can be guaranteed the usual effort and commitment from both sides. No quarter asked or given.

Real have had a full week to prepare for another epic battle, whilst Barca have had the trials and tribulations of a Champions League game with Manchester City to deal with.

Quite how much that will affect the latter, we'll find out at full time on Sunday. In the meantime, let's take a look at three things that will shape the outcome of this one...

Busquets blow

Xavi called him "the snowplough" and it's an apt description.

So much work that Sergio Busquets gets through has gone unnoticed, but the way in which he clears away the oncoming danger is unrivalled in the modern game.

His is an absence that Barcelona will certainly feel even if Mascherano can deputise with aplomb.

In so doing, the Argentine leaves Barca light at the back and frankly Jeremy Mathieu does not have the pace to contain the likes of Ronaldo and Bale.

Ramos' return

The return of Sergio Ramos could not have come at a better time for Real Madrid.

It's completely fair to suggest that the loss of the former Sevilla man and Luka Modric have been almost fatal to Real's chances in La Liga this season.

Prior to their injuries, Los Blancos were flying. In Ramos' absence, Rafael Varane hasn't impressed and rumours of a summer transfer to the Premier League for the young Frenchman are gathering pace.

Lionel Messi showed with another masterclass against Manchester City just what Ramos has got to contend with, but the Spaniard has shown before that he is more than up to the task.

Ronaldo or Messi?

Who is going to bask in the glow of the headlines on Monday morning?

On current form, Messi is primed to be the match winner once again, but Cristiano loves a Clasico and he'll love nothing better than putting a spoke in Barca's recent charge to the top of the table.

If he and Gareth Bale can utilise the wings and their pace, then Real will profit. Both Jordi Alba and Dani Alves won't be too keen to sit back in their natural defensive position but should Ronaldo play his natural game then one or the other will have no choice, Which will obviously hinder the way in which Luis Enrique wants to play this match.

All-time record holder for goals in the fixture, Messi is in a superb run of form and if he's not dealt with during the early stages, he will hurt Los Blancos.

Game on!

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James Rodriguez
La Liga
Lionel Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid
Toni Kroos
Luis Suarez
Karim Benzema
Gareth Bale

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