Barcelona, Madrid in 'clasico' clash

by

April 02, 2016
Barcelona's Messi
Ronaldo.
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MADRID (AP):

Facing his first 'clasico', Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane knows nothing other than victory at Barcelona will be enough.

The former midfield great replaced Rafa Benitez three months ago, but his star-studded team is virtually out of the Spanish league title race, 10 points adrift of Barcelona in third place.

"I know how things are at this club," Zidane said yesterday, a day before he takes his team to Camp Nou. "The important thing is to win, we all know it. I was here as a player."

Zidane has a lot riding on how well his team performs today following an irregular managing debut that has swung between blowouts of small teams, costly draws on the road, and a disappointing loss to second-place Atletico Madrid at home.

'MOST BEAUTIFUL GAME'

Zidane played his last 'clasico' 10 years ago, and he said that the clash between the fierce rivals is "the most beautiful game that exists for a player".

Zidane's challenge, however, is daunting.

Under second-year coach Luis Enrique, Barcelona are on a Spanish record streak of 39 matches without a loss across all competitions. That run has kept the team on course to repeating its rare treble of Spanish league, Champions League and Copa del Rey titles from last season.

Barcelona who have not lost at home to Madrid since 2013, crushed their rivals 4-0 in their first meeting this season, a humiliation that went a long way to the eventual firing of Benitez.

"If we win, we would deal a definitive blow to Madrid and Atletico would be our only rivals for the league," Luis Enrique said.

Much of Luis Enrique's confidence is based on Barcelona's awesome trio of forwards. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have combined for 107 goals in all competitions this season, far ahead of the 80 goals tallied by Madrid players Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.

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