PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

The timing of the second Clasico in five days is just right for Barça to put Tuesday’s defeat (1-3) behind them and recover the brilliant league form they’ve been showing all season. A win at the Bernabéu – where Roura’s team could easily have won the first leg of their Cup semi-final which ended in a 1-1 draw – would be a massive step towards confirming the league title, with second place Atlético currently second, 12 points adrift, and Real a distant 16 points off the pace.

Bad timing for Madrid

In contrast, the game comes at just the wrong moment for Madrid, who three days later travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United for a place in the Champions League quarter finals. After the 1-1 draw against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side at the Bernabéu, Mourinho seems certain to give priority to his team’s trip to England, with the league leaders already well out in front and rest a number of key players.

Xavi out

Apart from any tactical decisions, Madrid will be without Di María who is suspended, whilst Barça will be without Xavi who has a hamstring strain, as well as Abidal, Montoya and Dos Santos, who Roura has left out of his 19-man squad for the game. Víctor Valdés seems sure to return to the starting 11 and Roura may also make other changes from Tuesday’s team.

This is the sixth Clásico of the season and it provides the perfect opportunity for Barça to once again stamp their authority on a league competition they are already dominating.