It's fun to hype up El Clasico. Two teams, both of which are among the best in the world, playing each other as the clear top two in La Liga. There are also the political and cultural differences, making it really ease to act like it is the biggest match in the world that both teams are highly dependent on for their success. Unfortunately, that is not the case this time around because no matter the result on Saturday, Real Madrid will edge out Barcelona for the La Liga title.
Even if Barcelona beat Madrid at the Camp Nou, they will still trail their rivals by a point in the league with just four matches remaining. Neither team has an especially difficult schedule down the stretch either, with Madrid having to play Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla and Barcelona squaring off against Malaga as their toughest opponents. Barcelona may have a bit of an edge there, but not a big one. Although Madrid do have two tough matches to Barcelona's one, Malaga is the toughest team of the three, and Athletic have Europa League, weakening their squad ahead of playing Madrid.
More than anything, Barcelona are just too banged up. David Villa isn't going to step on the pitch again this season and neither is Eric Abidal is out. Gerard Pique is dealing with a thigh injury and Alexis Sanchez is also battling injury. There is always concern now that Carles Puyol might strain something as well, putting Barcelona in a precarious position. Madrid have a couple injuries of their own, but none in positions as important as the Catalans' and with Barcelona chasing a point, they don't want to be in the situation of more likely to drop points due to injury, which they appear to be.
Saturday's El Clasico will be brilliant. It could be the best 90 minutes of football we see all season and it will matter a lot for bragging rights, but it will not determine the league champion. That's going to be Real Madrid, regardless of the result of the Camp Nou.
We'll have pre-game and live game coverage in our Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, 2012 El Clasico StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.