It may only be six rounds into the season but Real Madrid head into this weekend's Nou Camp showdown with Barcelona knowing a defeat could cause irrevocable damage.
Madrid's sluggish start combined with Barca's red-hot form has already seen Tito Vilanova's men open up an eight-point gap on the reigning champions, and a home victory on Sunday in round seven would stretch that already sizeable advantage further still.
An 11-point gap may not be impossible for Madrid to overcome, especially with so much of the campaign left, but with Barca having only lost six league games in the last three seasons, the task that would face Jose Mourinho's side should they lose is clear to see.
Barcelona: Valdes; Dani Alves, Mascherano, Adriano, Jordi Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Iniesta.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Khedira, Alonso; Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo, Di Maria, Benzema.
Barca midfielder Xavi admits the benefits of a victory for his side would be huge, but insists the Catalan giants are not getting carried away with the situation.
He said today: "It would be a seventh successive victory in the league for us and a big blow to morale for Madrid. It would be a very important advantage but we could still lose those points.
"Whatever happens there is still a lot of the season left. A win would give us a lot of confidence because it's our age-old rivals, and would make the league more difficult for them. They are three very important points but the league will not be decided in this match."
The Spain international added: "Regardless of the points difference anything can happen. This is Madrid. Last year we were also favourites and they won here."
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