Football matches do not come much bigger than Real Madrid versus Barcelona and the stakes for the 227th El Clasico could scarcely be higher.
With the Liga title race entering the home straight, it is leaders Real who have the advantage and victory on Sunday at the Bernabeu would move Carlo Ancelotti's side seven points clear of their bitter rivals.
Such a gap would prove almost impossible for Barca to overturn as there are just nine league games left after this weekend's crunch clash.
And defender Jordi Alba concedes that the visitors simply must win if they are to retain realistic hopes of holding on to the Spanish top-flight crown.
"It's vital to win away to Madrid," Alba told Barca's official website. "We have to win in order to keep our title hopes alive.
"We're going to Madrid with the intention of winning the game. We know it will be difficult, but we want to play a good game and win."
It is a fixture that comes soaked in history and a host of stellar names have contributed to its rich tapestry, not least of all Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Two prolific forwards with a penchant for delivering on the big occasion, the duo have netted 30 Clasico goals between them and Messi will become the fixture's all-time leading scorer if he can take his tally to 19 this weekend.
That would eclipse the exploits of the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano, who is one of just three players to have scored more goals for Real than Ronaldo.
The Portuguese has racked up a phenomenal 242 goals since moving to the Bernabeu in 2009, ensuring his place among the pantheon of footballing greats.
Ronaldo was silenced by Gerardo Martino's men in October's meeting at Camp Nou, though, as the home side ran out 2-1 winners.
It was another global superstar who took centre stage that day, Neymar grabbing his first Clasico strike to put Barca ahead, with Alexis Sanchez doubling that lead before Jese Rodriguez's late consolation strike.
That result moved Martino's men six points clear of Real, but the side from Madrid have not lost in any competition since then - a run stretching 31 matches.
It marks a significant turnaround from last season, when Barca stormed to the title with 100 points, leaving Real trailing 15 behind.
And this term has seen the emergence of a third genuine championship contender, with Atletico Madrid, who will face Barca in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, adding another dimension to a fascinating title battle.
Real, drawn to face Borussia Dortmund in the same competition, will be without Jese, whose season was this week ended by a knee injury, but fellow forward Karim Benzema, who missed Tuesday's Champions League win over Schalke after limping off early in the 1-0 league triumph at Malaga, should return.
Barca may opt to recall Gerard Pique after the defender was left out of last Sunday's 7-0 win over Osasuna as a yellow card in the match would have earned him a suspension.
Jonathan dos Santos (knee) and Isaac Cuenca (hamstring) remain sidelined.
|22||Á. di María||35'|
|7||Cristiano Ronaldo||55' 86'|
|9||K. Benzema||20' 24'|
|Coach: C. Ancelotti|
for K. Benzema 66'
for Á. di María 85'
for L. Modrić 90'
|MLS Preview: Timbers braced for ´massive´ clash in Vancouver|
|Los Angeles Galaxy 4 DC United 1: Arena´s side show quality|
|Copa Sudamericana Review: River Plate, Libertad among teams to progress|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Pachuca in seventh heaven, Leon held|
|LDU Quito 3 Deportivo Quito 0: Hosts earn bragging rights against rivals|
|Johnson calm over future|
|Kiessling hails Leverkusen|
|Benitez: Mistakes cost Napoli Champions League spot|
|K. League Preview: Seoul eyeing winning streak|
|Liga MX Preview: Monterrey looking to build momentum|
|Valverde hails ´historic day´ for Bilbao|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Mixed results for Europe´s big guns, Moti the hero for Ludogorets|
|Atletico announce Velazquez capture|
|Giroud set for lengthy absence - Wenger|
|Holders City handed home clash with Wednesday|
|La Liga Preview: Saul not worried by Simeone absence, Barca face tough Villarreal test|
|Eto´o retires from Cameroon duty|
|Aston Villa 0 Leyton Orient 1: Late Vincelot winner sends underdogs through|
|Birmingham City 0 Sunderland 3: Late strikes stun hosts|
|Arsenal 1 Besiktas 0 (1-0 agg): Alexis strike takes Wenger´s men through|
|Stoke City 3 Portsmouth 0: Walters brace sees hosts into League Cup third round|
|Burton Albion 1 QPR 0: Late strike seals upset for fourth-tier hosts|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Bordeaux look to maintain 100 per cent start|
|Dunga: No one guaranteed a place in Brazil squad|
|Serie A Preview: Juve´s Allegri era starts at Chievo|
|Mazzarri calls for professional Inter|
|Utrecht swoop for Peterson|
|Deeney extends Watford stay|
|Alonso calls time on international career|
|Bundesliga Preview: Schalke captain Howedes issues rallying cry, Leverkusen face Hertha|
|Fazio joins Spurs from Sevilla|
|Warnock will control transfers - Parish|
|Pochettino wants Soldado and Townsend to stay at Spurs|
|Augsburg v Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller returns for wobbling visitors|
|Celtic complete Wakaso deal|
|Seoul 0 Pohang Steelers 0 (aet, 3-0 on penalties): Yu heroics send Seoul through|
|Guangzhou Evergrande 2 Western Sydney Wanderers 1: Wanderers squeeze through on away goals|
|I´m the future, Benatia´s the past - Manolas|
|Osotspa 3 Chiangrai United 3: Visitors secure point with late rally|
|Israel versus Belgium fixture postponed|
|Fernandes reveals Redknapp contract talks|
|Warnock makes Palace return|
|Eto´o grateful to Mourinho|
|Maiga loaned to Metz|
|Pearson rues ´poor´ Leicester display|
|Bruce: Rhodes deal dead and buried|
|Balotelli set to face Tottenham|
|Di Maria wanted Real stay|
|Dyche wary of inflated transfer market|
|Celtic didn´t deserve Champions League, concedes Deila|
|Game of two halves for Koeman|
|Allardyce hails ´inspired´ Howard|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Red Bulls up and running, Rodriguez stars for Saprissa|
|Copa Sudamericana Review: Gimenez double helps Emelec through|
|Eredivisie Preview: Guardado set for PSV bow, Ajax eye recovery|
|Van Gaal ´not shocked´ by Dons defeat|
|Deila: Celtic deserved Champions League exit|
|Barca agree deal for Pereira|
|Lopetegui lauds Porto progression|
|League Cup Review: United hammered by MK Dons, West Ham lose on penalties|
|West Brom 1 Oxford United 1 (aet, 7-6 on penalties): Hosts avoid cup shock|
|Manchester United win ´something dreams are made of´ - Robinson|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Celtic out again, Porto safely through|
|United rebuild will take time - Van Gaal|
|Erbil 2 Ha Noi T&T 0 (agg 3-0): Iraqi side comfortably into the AFC Cup semis|
|West Ham 1 Sheffield United 1 (aet, 4-5 on penalties): Valencia miss proves crucial in shootout defe|
|Millwall 0 Southampton 2: Koeman claims first win|
|MK Dons 4 Manchester United 0: Humiliation for Van Gaal|
|Swansea City 1 Rotherham United 0: Gomis off the mark in League Cup clash|
|Leicester City 0 Shrewsbury Town 1: Mangan seals shock win for Shrewsbury|
|Burnley 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1: Visitors dump Dyche´s men out of League Cup|
|Walsall 0 Crystal Palace 3: Gayle treble lifts Palace gloom|
|Gillingham 0 Newcastle United 1: Egan own goal secures Newcastle triumph|
|Coupe de la Ligue Review: Auxerre, Ajaccio secure big wins|
|Al Ittihad 1 Al Ain 3: Gyan helps visitors secure semi-final spot|
|Hull City v Lokeren: Elmohamady calls for vocal support|
|Al Sadd 0 Al Hilal 0 (agg 0-1): Visitors hang on to progress|
|Tottenham v AEL: Pochettino eyes continuation of good form|
|Benitez: The pressure is on Athletic|
|Eto´o completes Goodison Park move|
|Reus nets in Dortmund friendly win|
|Roma secure Manolas signing|
|Aduriz: We can´t play for a draw|
|Al Hadd 2 Al Qadsia 2 (agg 3-3): Last-gasp leveller seals away-goal victory for visitors|
|United break transfer record for Di Maria|
|Hull announce Dawson signing|
|Moses set for Stoke debut|
|Hodgson pays tribute to Lampard|
|UEFA Europa League Play-Off Preview: Lyon look to reverse upset, Inter defend three-goal lead|
|Lukimya pens new Bremen deal|
|Bayern complete Benatia swoop|
|Bayern complete Benatia swoop|
|M´Bia replaces Eto´o as Cameroon captain|
|Palermo complete double defensive deal|
|Bakambu claims Swansea and Freiburg interest|
|Inter v Stjarnan: Mazzarri may tinker for Europa League test|
|Kitchee 0 Ninh Binh 1 (agg 4-3): Hosts hold off strong challenge to reach last four|
|Guardado pens PSV loan deal|
|Lampard announces international retirement|
|Wenger unsure on severity of Giroud injury|
|Mascherano signs new Barca contract|
|Basanta seized Europe chance with Fiorentina|
|Marchisio: Allegri´s philosophy will boost Juve´s Europe hopes|
|Persipura 6 Al Kuwait 1 (agg 8-4): Hosts romp holders to make history|
|Cahill thrilled with Chelsea start|
|Gardner completes Brighton loan|
|Pienaar out of Chelsea clash, Lukaku faces assessment|
|Seoul v Pohang Steelers: Korean rivals battle for AFC Champions League semi spot|
|Lamela keen to add goals|
|Jovetic refuses to take plaudits|
|Henderson tips Balotelli for success|
|Moya takes positives from defensive showing|
|Pepe unperturbed by scrappy showing|
|New youngsters will adapt, says Rodgers|
|Girard confident of Lille progression|
|Riise fears for Fulham under Magath|
|Balotelli: ´It was a mistake´ to leave England|
|Simeone: My suspension made no difference|
|Guangzhou Evergrande v Western Sydney Wanderers: Aussies braced for hostile reception|
|Bayern need time - Alaba|
|Ancelotti: Fatigue behind lacklustre display|
|Pellegrini delighted with Premier League start|
|Moreirense 0 Sporting Braga 0: Conceicao´s men held in Moreira|
|Liverpool will bounce back - Rodgers|