MADRID: Lionel Messi’s 45th Clasico game early on Sunday morning could be his last as Barcelona look to re-strengthen their strength under Ronald Koeman by beating Real Madrid and clinching the top spot in La Liga.
The prize for the winner at Valdebebas is to knock Atletico Madrid out of the top spot for the first time since December as the club strengthened their position to create a 10 -point lead with one game in hand in early February.
Yet Atletico have struggled lately apart from the rise of Madrid and Barca, seeing that advantage dwindle and the question now is whether Diego Simeone can recover to continue the league hunt to the end.
Who Atletico should overcome in the last nine games depends on the result at Alfredo di Stefano, as both clubs are hoping to create something big after the improvement they have exhibited.
Success for Barcelona will be a clear indication of what has been served over the past few months, the start of a recovery that has come along with uncertainty about Messi’s future this summer.
Messi is not expected to think about a new contract until the end of the season but Juan Laporta is starting to plan something.
“Today is the 20th anniversary of a boy named Leo Messi who made his debut with the Barca youth team,” Laporta said last month.
“To see Leo selected, the best player in world football, with him like my own son, is an example of what I can say, that Leo loves Barca and we are like a big family.”