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Alonso chases down Messi / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

This evening’s Clásico at the Bernabéu (21.00, Canal+), the fourth showdown between the two sides this season, conjures up a mix of precaution, excitement and ambition for FC Barcelona. On one hand, the Blaugrana know that Madrid, despite coming into the match with important absences, have always been a very dangerous side. It doesn’t matter who’s on the pitch, Los Blancos are a threat in any match. Jordi Roura, who warned of Madrid’s capabilities in yesterday's pre-match press conference, is aware that overconfidence could lead to a disastrous result at the Bernabéu.

On the other hand, Busquets admitted on Monday that Barça won’t be looking for a draw against Real Madrid. “A victory would be a good result,” he declared.

Liga and Super Cup, neither yielded victory for the Blaugrana

The coaching staff and the players have rubbished being called favorites for tonight’s match, despite the 15-point lead Barça have in La Liga. This summer’s Spanish Super Cup also doesn’t yield accurate predictions. In the away leg, Barça went from a possible 4-1 to a 3-2. Even though Madrid could have scored a handful of goals in the first half, the game ended with a FC Barcelona comeback despite being a man down. Clásicos are unpredictable matches. Like the 2-2 in La Liga, the match could have been won by either team.

Five important absences

The outcome of tonight's match is further clouded by Real Madrid’s depleted squad. Casillas and Pepe will miss the match due to injury, while Ramos, Coentrao and Di María are suspended, which means that Jose Mourinho’s starting XI will be just as experimental as Barça’s when the two teams faced off in La Liga, when the Blaugrana couldn’t field Puyol and Pique, and Alves had to be subbed off early in the first half.

19-man squad

At this point it’s unknown if Madrid’s five missing players will affect the outcome of the match, but Mourinho will be able to call on all of his strikers, including Cristiano Ronaldo. Barça, on the other hand, come into the match with most of its players fit to play. It’s time for another Clásico: precaution, excitement and, especially, ambition. A spot in the final is up for grabs.

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