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Real Madrid out to show form is temporary but class is permanent

Madrid will need to show less of their recent form and more of the class from the first half of the season if they are to achieve a positive result at the Camp Nou.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Form is temporary, class is permanent - or so the saying goes. Real Madrid will have to show less of their current form and more of the class that helped them to a 3-1 victory over Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu back in October if they are to make it a Liga double against Luis Enrique's side on Sunday night.

On current form, Barcelona will be favourites to beat Carlo Ancelotti's out-of-sorts side at the Camp Nou this weekend and extend their lead at La Liga's summit to four points. Their performances have been superior to Madrid's in recent weeks, and perhaps months, and they've seen a positive return in results to showcase that.

The Catalan club have turned a four-point deficit in the title race into a one-point advantage in the space of only three weeks. A 2-0 victory at Elche last month put Madrid four points clear at the top after Barca suffered a shock 1-0 home loss against Malaga just 24 hours before. That weekend put Ancelotti and his men seemingly in control and with the opportunity to lose the Clasico and still have the title in their hands.

Now, after accumulating just four points from nine in their last three games, Madrid trail Barca going into this weekend's crucial contest and face saying goodbye to another title if they suffer defeat against the league leaders. Since that defeat to Malaga, Luis Enrique's men have won all five of their matches in all competitions and will go into the match in buoyant mood.

Madrid will have undoubtedly wanted to be in better form ahead of the potential title decider but while Sunday's game could be looked at with some fear and trepidation, it can also be looked at as a chance to sweep aside all the problems that have come before in recent weeks and months. It could be just the tonic Ancelotti, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Florentino Perez are looking for to help put to bed a tough period.

If there is one game that can completely change the flow of a season it's the Clasico. Previous defeats can be forgotten, problems will be swept under the carpet and cheers will replace jeers. Madrid should realise that and see Sunday's game as an opportunity to make their lives a whole lot easier.

It is a chance to right the recent wrongs and become heroes again rather than villains. It is a chance to reclaim top-spot in La Liga, it is a chance to take the bragging rights, the momentum and the plaudits. It provides a chance to all-but erase the poor passes, missed chances, hastily-arranged press conferences and talk about players and managers moving on to pastures new. A chance to wipe the slate clean - almost.

In these Clasico clashes form is important but it is not everything. Barcelona were unbeaten and had not conceded a goal when they arrived in the Spanish capital for the reverse fixture earlier in the season. The Catalans had won seven and drawn the other of their opening eight matches and had not conceded a goal all season. Madrid ended all that with a convincing 3-1 victory.

Madrid's form has also been hampered by the absence of key players, key players who have made a timely return in recent weeks. Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos probably won't be 100 per cent match fit this weekend but they at least showed against Levante that they are ready. Modric made his first start in four months and Ramos got his first outing in over a month. The match was not the most testing for the pair against a lacklustre opponent but they added plenty to their side's play.

On current form Madrid may not look ready to match an on-song Barcelona side at the Camp Nou but this could be just the spark Ancelotti and his men are looking for going into the "business end" of the season. A chance for a huge boost going into the final stretch in La Liga and ahead of the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Form aside, Madrid still have a world-class squad set to line-up at the Camp Nou come 21:00 (CET) on Sunday. Ancelotti has match-winners such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Isco, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ready to win a match with a single pass or move and he will have what he believes to be his first-choice defence at his disposal. On paper, the Madrid side that will line-up in the Clasico is still a match for Barcelona and still has the capabilities of blowing away any side in the world on its day.

So do Barcelona, and although form may not may not be the decisive factor in high-profile stand-alone games such as these, Madrid need to be wary that Barcelona are a side firing on all cylinders. They are a side with Luis Suarez in full flow, unlike the Bernabeu match, and they are a side seemingly with team harmony problems behind them.

Both Madrid and Barca have shown their class and suffered dips in form this season and both will look for a bit of class this weekend that could spark a prolonged run of good form at the point in the season they need it most.

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