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4. WEEKEND PREVIEW: Real Madrid-Barcelona clasico
October 20th, 2006 1:12AM



Real Madrid will be out of wipe away the memory of last season's humiliating defeat at Bernabeu Stadium when it hosts Barcelona Sunday in soccer's most passionate regional clasico (TV: Gol TV, live, 3 pm ET).

When Barcelona played Real Madrid last season at Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium, Barca star Ronaldinho exited to a standing ovation from the Madrid fans after scoring two goals in Barca's 3-0 win. The humiliation of that defeat and that reaction from the home fans signaled the end of the Galactico era at Real Madrid and helped trigger the departure of Real Madrid President Florentino Perez.

Perez's successor, Ramon Calderon, is confident of victory in his first clasico.

"I've told the players that we have the best squad in the world, that no one can beat us if we put our minds to it," he told the sports daily Marca. "I'm certain that we will beat Barca."

Real Madrid has abandoned its star system for a disciplined approach imposed by Italian Fabio Capello. The key will be shutting down Ronaldinho, as Chelsea did in its 1-0 victory over Barcelona on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League.

Real Madrid, however, will be without suspended Ronaldo, Ronaldinho's countryman. Robinho, after an impressive midweek showing in the Champions League, is expected to get a rare La Liga start, having previously been used mainly as a sub by Real Madrid.


ENGLAND. Portsmouth is a surprise fourth in the EPL, but it faces it's biggest test of the season when it travels to defending champion Chelsea on Saturday (TV: Setanta USA Sports, live, 9:45 am ET). History isn't on Pompey's side: Chelsea has won all six EPL meetings by a margin of 14-0. Manchester United, which is tied with Chelsea for first place in the EPL, hosts Liverpool on Sunday in a clash of Champions League teams (TV: Setanta USA Sports, live, 7:55 am ET).

FRANCE. Marseille is perhaps the only team with a chance to dethrone five-time champion Lyon, which it hosts at the Velodrome on Sunday (TV: Setanta Sports USA, live, 2:55 pm ET). Lyon carries a 10-game winning streak into the game and would open up an eight-point lead over OM with a win.

GERMANY. Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich, the two hottest teams in the Bundesliga, face off on Saturday at Bremen's Weserstadion (TV: Gol TV, live, 9:30 am ET). Werder and Bayern both scored big wins last weekend to join Schalke 04 in a three-way tie for the league lead. They followed up with excellent victories in the Champions League on Wednesday.

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