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Wednesday, April 1
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Mar 1, 2020 at 8pm UK
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Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: Four key battles that could decide El Clasico

:Headline: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: Four key battles that could decide El Clasico:
Barcelona and Real Madrid are separated by two points at the top of LaLiga.

Real Madrid host Barcelona on Sunday in a clash that could go a long way to deciding who wins LaLiga.

The previous meeting in December ended in a rare goalless draw, while Barca go into the game with a two-point lead at the top of the table.

Here, the PA news agency picks out four key battles that could settle El Clasico.

Thibaut Courtois v Marc Andre Ter-Stegen

Thibaut Courtois will look to keep out Barcelona again (Nick Potts/PA)

The goalkeepers responsible for the first goalless El Clasico in 17 years will face each other again. But neither go into the second league clash in top form. Courtois has not kept a clean sheet in his last four games, was beaten at his near post in last weekend's defeat at Levante and could not keep out Gabriel Jesus' header despite getting a hand to it in the Champions League loss to Manchester City in midweek. Ter-Stegen kept a clean sheet against Eibar last weekend but that was one of only two shutouts he has managed in the league in 2020. Whoever has the better game in goal this weekend could prove crucial.

Sergio Ramos v Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi has a good record against Real Madrid (Nick Potts/PA)

The veterans of dozens of Clasicos will do battle once again. Messi has scored 26 goals in 40 appearances against Real and has netted three times in his last three league trips to the Bernabeu. Defender Ramos has four goals and three red cards in his 45 El Clasico appearances. He was dismissed against City in midweek and will need to remain disciplined if Real are going to stop Messi and Co on Sunday.

Luka Modric v Frenkie De Jong

Modric is 14 months removed from winning the Ballon d'Or but the 34-year-old has struggled to reach those standards so far this season. Up against him this weekend is 22-year-old De Jong who is playing his first campaign for Barca. A year ago, De Jong starred against Modric in the Ajax team that ended Real's Champions League dominance and was hailed as one of the future stars of the game. He has slotted in comfortably at the Nou Camp and Sunday gives him the opportunity to make his mark on the biggest of stages – and another chance at testing himself against Modric.

Karim Benzema v Gerard Pique

Karim Benzema will look to net another big goal (Peter Byrne/PA)

Benzema will line-up in El Clasico for the 37th time, but he has not scored in a league game against Barca since April 2016. He is scoreless in his last five games in all competitions and has managed just one league goal in 2020 – though that was the winner against city rivals Atletico Madrid on February 1. Real will hope the striker has another big goal in his locker. Looking to stop him will be Gerard Pique, providing the 33-year-old shakes off an ankle problem he suffered against Napoli in midweek. The defender's last El Clasico league goal came in the same game as Benzema's, but his main focus will be on stopping the Frenchman on Sunday.

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La Liga Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona27184563313258
2Real Madrid27168349193056
3Sevilla27138639291047
4Real Sociedad27144945331246
5Getafe27137737251246
6Atletico MadridAtletico271112431211045
7Valencia2711973839-142
8Villarreal27115114438638
9Granada27115113332138
10Athletic Bilbao2791082923637
11Osasuna2781093438-434
12Real Betis2789103843-533
13Levante27103143240-833
14AlavesAlaves2788112937-832
15Real Valladolid27611102333-1029
16EibarEibar2776142741-1427
17Celta Vigo27511112234-1226
18Mallorca2774162844-1625
19Leganes2758142139-1823
20Espanyol2748152346-2320
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool29271166214582
2Manchester CityMan City28183768313757
3Leicester CityLeicester29165858283053
4Chelsea29146951391248
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd29129844301445
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves29101364134743
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28111073025543
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs29118104740741
9Arsenal2891364036440
10Burnley29116123440-639
11Crystal Palace29109102632-639
12Everton29107123746-937
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2998122541-1635
14Southampton29104153552-1734
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton29611123240-829
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2976163550-1527
17Watford2969142744-1727
18Bournemouth2976162947-1827
19Aston Villa2874173456-2225
20Norwich CityNorwich2956182552-2721
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