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Monday 18 December 2017

Barcelona aim to lay title marker in Clasico

A surging Barcelona have overhauled Real Madrid in the Spanish league standings, and the Luis Enrique's side now have the chance to open up a significant gap in the second "Clasico" of the season tomorrow evening.

Barcelona are on a run of 17 wins in its last 18 games and lead the league by one point, while Madrid is a shadow of the side that ended 2014 on a Spanish record 22-match winning streak that included a 3-1 win over the Catalan club.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will again vie to leave their mark on one of the most hotly contested rivalries in soccer. "We face the match with a lot of respect," Messi said. "Madrid never plays poorly and when they appear to be struggling, they are even more dangerous. They have incredibly talented players, and we have to respect then more than ever."

Madrid will be without James Rodriguez with a broken foot, while Javier Mascherano should seamlessly fill in for Barcelona in place of injured stopper Sergio Busquets.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid were handed a chance to avenge last season's Champions League final defeat by city rivals and record 10-times winners Real after the two sides were drawn together in the last eight yesterday.

Paris St Germain and Barcelona were paired together having met in the group stages.

Porto will face 2013 champions Bayern Munich and Juventus take on Monaco in the other ties.

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