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Another fierce encounter is expected as the Spanish giants resume their rivalry. Picture - Reuters.

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The seventh and final El Clasico of 2011 will be played at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, as Real Madrid and Barcelona renew their fierce, and at times violent, rivalry in the Spanish League.

Over the course of the year, these two sides have battled on the football pitch six times with a look at the stats showing 25 players yellow carded in those games - it explains exactly what kind of match this will be. In the previous games, during the 'Mourinho and Guardiola era', the clasicos have been anything but classic.

As usual, hopes are high for a truly exciting encounter, with none of the ugly simulations and rash tackles which marred the previous games. It is, however, impossible to predict as to how the game will go. Much depends on what tactics will be used by both sides.

Against Barcelona's tiki-taka football, Mourinho's Madrid have been considered as a more defensive unit in contrast to their proud history. The Portuguese manager came under a lot of criticism for 'parking the bus' against the Catalans. In retrospect however, he cannot be blamed. Last season, Madrid suffered their heaviest defeat - a 5-0 mauling - in a clasico after Mourinho sent his team out to match the Catalans blow-for-blow.

Since then, he adopted a much more defensive approach, which yeilded a 1-0 win in extra time of the Copa Del Rey final.

Over the course of the current season, it is noticeable how Madrid are a much more attacking unit, as opposed to the counter-attacking they adopted last year. It'll be interesting to see whether Mourinho resorts to parking the bus again or how he sets up to contain Lionel Messi.

Barcelona, on the other hand, have adopted an interesting 3-4-3 approach, accommodating summer signing Cesc Fabregas. Guardiola is unlikely to send his team out with three at the back against Madrid however, as it will leave them prone to attacks from the pacey Madrid front-line, including a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

Tactics apart, this game is also interesting in context. For the first time, Guardiola will send his Barcelona side out to close a gap with Madrid. The Los Blancos lead the Catalans by three-points with a game-in-hand, making this a must-win match for Barca. However, Madrid will be happy with a draw, while a win would give them a considerable advantage over their fierce-rivals in pursuit of the Spanish title.

Expect a fair bit of controversies, talking-points and, most of all, some quality football this time around. One of the biggest sporting rivalries resume on Saturday in what is sure to be a cracker!

Team News

Real Madrid will be without center-back Ricardo Carvalho through injury while fellow-defender Alvaro Arbeoa and midfielder Kaka are doubtful.

Barcelona will be without the injured Ibrahim Afellay while captain Carles Puyol is doubtful after coming off against Levante with a head injury.

Prediction

This match is probably closest thing to war football can offer, with two more or less equal sides battling each other, it is next to impossible to predict a winner.

Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona