Four questions to answer in Spain's matchday 33

MADRID -- The Clasico between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona will dominate the games in matchday 33 in the La Liga, but although that game is the focus of attention, there is also a lot at stake at grounds other than the Santiago Bernabeu: here are some big questions which will be answered this weekend.

1) Will Real Madrid win the league title?

Although there will still be five matches left to be played after this weekend, it is safe to say that a home win for Real Madrid against Barcelona would be all but definitive for the title race.

Madrid entertain the Catalans with a three-point lead at the top of the table and a game in hand. A win for Zinedine Zidane's side would make that gap open to six points with a game less played and a look at Real Madrid's remaining fixtures doesn't suggest they will drop that many points, even if Barca were to win their last five matches.

Even if Barca win on Sunday, Madrid would still be in control of the destiny of this season's title, although the title race would become quite a bit more interesting.

2) Messi or Ronaldo?

It is the eternal question and one which is raised every time Madrid and Barca face each other: which of the two best players in the world will be decisive on Sunday night?

Ronaldo was certainly more decisive as Madrid qualified for the semifinals of the Champions League on Tuesday thanks in part to his hat-trick against Bayern Munich. Two of those goals should have been ruled out for offside, but he was in (almost) the right place at the right time and although his physical contribution is not what it was, he is still key to his side.

Messi led from the front as Barca could only draw 0-0 to Juventus and was at the heart of his side's best chances, but it was not to be as he saw two shots flash just wide and another saved by Gianluigi Buffon. For once it was not to be, but Messi being Messi, if one day he doesn't succeed, the next day he probably will.

3) Which midfield will come out on top?

It used to be that Barcelona's midfield as much as their strikers was the secret to their success with Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets passing their rivals into submission. Xavi is no longer there, Iniesta is getting older and this has not been Busquets' best season, while Ivan Rakitic has also been disappointing at times. As for Andre Gomes, the man signed to fill the gaps. Well, Andre Gomes has not filled the gaps, and when he plays (at times) it appears as if he creates them. Maybe that's why Luis Enrique has been accused of betraying Barca's passing game of late.

Real Madrid can count on Casemiro who works well as a stopper, Tony Kroos and Luka Modric, while Isco's recent form has also been outstanding. Add to that two full backs to push forward effectively and Madrid may just think that for once they actually have the strongest midfield.

4) Can Sporting keep their nerves in Pamplona?

Down at the other end of La Liga, bottom-of-the-table Osasuna entertain third-from-bottom Sporting Gijon, who were unlucky to lose 3-2 to Madrid last weekend. Sporting will have underlined this game against a rival with just one home win all season as a chance to get three vital points, but they would do well not to put all of their eggs in one basket. Two weeks ago Leganes also traveled to Pamplona expecting three points from the El Sadar Stadium, the result was a nervous below par display and Osasuna's first home win of the campaign. If Sporting are to avoid relegation they need to avoid falling into the same trap, forget about the points and play their game - something that is much easier said than done.

[ Editor: zyq ]


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