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Barcelona go 9 points clear at the top of La Liga ahead of Sunday’s El Clasico

La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club Bilbao at San Mames Barria Stadium Copyright: ©️IMAGO / xSaraxAribox

FC Barcelona restored a 9-point lead at the top of Spain’s La Liga following a tight 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Xavi’s Barça further imposed themselves on La Liga as the Catalans secured a 1-0 victory at the San Mamés Stadium thanks to a solitary goal from winger Raphinha. The Brazilian’s low effort was ruled out for offside initially, but the decision was reversed thanks to a VAR check from the officials.

Barcelona then benefited from VAR again in the 89th minute, spotting a handball in the build-up to Iñaki Williams‘ disallowed equaliser for the Basque side.

Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made several fine saves to deny Bilbao, who were unfortunate not to get anything out of the match after putting the pressure on in the second half. Bilbao‘s Oier Zarraga saw his effort cleared off the line by Jules Koundé in added time, as Barça held on for the win.

The victory meant that La Blaugrana extended their lead over their bitter rivals Real Madrid, who had briefly cut Barca’s lead to six points after beating Espanyol on Saturday. The two sides are set to meet in El Clasico at the Nou Camp on Sunday.

La Liga as it stands: Can Real Madrid close the gap on Sunday?

Barcelona have been in excellent form this season, winning 21 out of their 25 matches and scoring a league-high 47 goals while only conceding 8. Their defence has been particularly impressive, as they have only conceded 3 goals in their last 10 matches.

1Club Crest Barcelona252122478+3965
2Club Crest Real Madrid2517535019+3156
3Club Crest Atlético Madrid2413653819+1945
4Club Crest Real Sociedad2513663324+945
5Club Crest Betis2512673326+742
6Club Crest Villarreal2511592924+538
7Club Crest Rayo Vallecano259882928+135
Source: FBREF

They will be facing arch-rivals Real Madrid in the El Clasico who have also been in good form, winning 17 of their 25 matches and scoring 50 goals while conceding 19. However, they have struggled in recent matches, winning just one of their last three games in all competitions. Los Blancos won against Espanyol 3-1 in their last La Liga match.

Real Madrid in European competition ahead of El Clasico

Whilst Barcelona won’t be playing in the Europa League after being knocked out by Manchester United at the play-off stage of the competition, Real Madrid will be playing in the Champions League before El Clasico. Carlo Ancelloti’s side should be able to see off Liverpool on Wednesday, having already travelled to Anfield and taken an important 5-2 aggregate lead over the Premier League side. Xavi’s Catalan side will hope that an extra few days of rest before facing their rivals at the Camp Nou stadium on Sunday will give the squad an advantage in what should be an exciting fixture at the top of La Liga.

When and where will Barcelona vs Real Madrid take place?

Date: Sunday 19th March
Stadium: Camp Nou, Barcelona
Kick-off: 21:00 (CET) 04:00 (PST)