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Stage set for 'El Clásico'

Published: Thursday 8 April 2010, 17.07CET
Real Madrid CF striker Gonzalo Higuaín predicts 'El Clásico' will be "a very open game" while FC Barcelona's Gerard Piqué pledges that the visitors will "do our talking on the field".
by Paul Bryan
from Madrid
Stage set for 'El Clásico'
Sergio Ramos (left) vies with Lionel Messi during the teams' first meeting of the season ©AFP
Published: Thursday 8 April 2010, 17.07CET

Stage set for 'El Clásico'

Real Madrid CF striker Gonzalo Higuaín predicts 'El Clásico' will be "a very open game" while FC Barcelona's Gerard Piqué pledges that the visitors will "do our talking on the field".

Gonzalo Higuaín insisted the outcome of Saturday's 'El Clásico' between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona would not be crucial in determining the destination of this year's Liga title, although the striker did promise an "entertaining end-to-end game with a lot of goals".

Both teams go into Saturday's meeting level on 77 points – a record total at this stage of the season – and with the eyes of the world ready to focus on the Santiago Bernabéu, 'Pipita' is convinced a spectacular show awaits. "It's going to be a very open match," Higuaín, Madrid's 24-goal leading scorer, said. "There's no doubt it will be a very important encounter but I wouldn't say it's a decisive one [with eight games still to play]. What winning the clásico will do is give either team a huge boost going into their remaining fixtures."

Manuel Pellegrini's charges have won every home league game this term and prior to last weekend's 2-0 victory at Real Racing Club, had struck at least three times in their previous ten Liga fixtures. Having won their last 12 top-flight matches, Madrid are certain to provide a stiff test for their rivals, who triumphed 1-0 in the corresponding fixture at the Camp Nou in November. "That night we came out attacking and were pressing high up the field; we had our chances to take three points and we certainly didn't deserve to lose," Higuaín recalled. "This time around we will be more incisive than Barça."

With the Spanish media savouring an attacking battle between, among others, Cristiano Ronaldo and the Liga's leading scorer, Lionel Messi, Higuaín naturally chose to side with his Portuguese team-mate. "Both Ronaldo and Messi could well be the determining factors in this game but from our point of view let's hope it's Cristiano," he said.

Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué, meanwhile, insisted the Azulgrana needed no better inspiration than to review last season's encounter between the teams in the Spanish capital which ended in a 6-2 victory for the visitors. "That was so sweet; something that will stay with all of us forever," the centre-back explained. "We still have the memories and emotions of that day burning inside us; we know it's unrepeatable."

That win was the third time Barça had come away from the Bernabéu with maximum points in their previous six visits yet on Saturday they will be looking to achieve a feat that still eludes them: consecutive triumphs at the home of their great rivals. With Guardiola wanting his players to refrain from speaking about the top-of-the-table meeting, Piqué simply said: "We'll do our talking on the pitch."

Last updated: 30/11/12 13.22CET

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