Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona, El Clasico 2011: Both Sides Play In UEFA Champions League, But Build-Up Starts Now

Andres Iniesta (C) of Barcelona is fouled by Sergio Ramos (L) of Real Madrid as Sami Khedira of Real Madrid looks on during the la Liga match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain. Los Blancos and Los Cules renew their rivalry this weekend in El Clasico. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Real Madrid and Barcelona contest this season's first edition of 'El Clasico' on Saturday

Real Madrid and Barcelona are not the only two teams in Spain's La Liga, and they both have to play one more match between meeting this weekend. With El Clasico looming and both teams already qualified for the knockout stages, expect both the Merengues and Cules to play reserve teams in the UEFA Champions League at the weekend. This week is all about the big game on Saturday night.

Barcelona are six points behind their rivals in the league, but only the Clasicos have truly counted in the short Jose Mourinho - Pep Guardiola era. As long as La Liga's television rules are in place, the teams are run in the ways they are currently run and those two men are in charge, it will probably stay that way.

You may find the constant praise of these two sides and the build-up to their matches insufferable, but it happens because they matter. Real Madrid are the most in-form side in the world. Barcelona have won two of the last three UEFA Champions League titles. These are the two biggest teams in the world, and the build-up is over the top because these two teams matter, and their games matter more than anyone else's games. In hype, in television ratings, and in general footballing terms.

The first Clasico of the season takes place at 4:00 pm ET, 9:00 pm GMT and 10:00 pm local time on Saturday evening. You can catch it on GolTV in the USA and Sky Sports 3 in the UK. We'll have coverage all week right here.

For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes. Check out SB Nation Soccer for coverage of Real and Barca's Champions League matches this week. For more from around the world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

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