Rocky Real look to resist ahead of latest Barcelona visit

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By Robert Hackwill
Real get a boost ahead of the classico with the return of Ronaldo
Real get a boost ahead of the classico with the return of Ronaldo

This weekend sees the latest classico club clash in Spain, perhaps the world's premier club contest, Real Madrid versus Barcelona.

The last time the two sides met in April an estimated 650 million people watched it on TV in 180 countries, the most-wtached game in club football.

Despite a flying start to the season Real are now languishing in fourth place and on their worst run in nine years.

"Yes, it is what I think but in my opinion it is not a decisive game in the race for the league even with the gap in points. It is not time to think about that. It would be even foolish to think about it because I think in positives. I want my team to play well and at this moment we are doing it. We have achieved great results and we are improving," said manager Zinedine Zidane.

Barcelona, top of the league and 11 points in front of Real, must be relishing their arch-rival's discomfort, and playing away will not daunt them. The team may have lost star Neymar over the summer, but Paulinho, his 29-year-old surprise replacement, has delivered the goods and slotted in with Messi and Suarez to strike terror into opposition defences.

"They will put pressure on and play to their strengths. They are a team that when you're playing against them the moment you think you're doing well is the moment they strike against you. It may seem that you dominate them and then they suddenly counter-attack. A team of many virtues," said Barca's manager Ernesto Valverde.

Kickoff is around Saturday lunchtime. Bon appetit.