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Messi has chance to equal El Clásico appearance record

Lionel Messi could this week become the player with the joint-most official editions of El Clásico played, matching Sergio Ramos' 45. If he plays on Saturday, with the Real Madrid captain set to miss the game through injury, the two would be level on a list that features them ahead of the likes of fellow legends Paco Gento, Manolo Sanchís and Xavi Hernández -with 42 El Clásicos played apiece.

If Messi features this weekend, he will move level with Xavi as the FC Barcelona players with the most appearances in the fixture in LaLiga, with 29.

Ramos set to miss the game

Sergio Ramos returned injured from duty with the Spanish national team and, although no official announcement has been made as to his availability, he is not expected to play in El Clásico.

This would be only the third El Clásico that he has missed in his career at Real Madrid, and the first time he has missed the fixture in LaLiga. He was absent from the semi final of the Champions League in 2010/11 (1-1) and the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi final in 2012/13 (1-1).

Messi's El Clásico numbers

Barça have won five of their last seven away games against Real Madrid in all competitions. As for this season, Messi has been in strong form, scoring 29 goals in total.

He is also the top goalscorer in El Clásico history, across the board (26) and in LaLiga (18).

However, the Argentine has gone six editions of the fixture without scoring. He has beaten some top goalkeepers when playing against Real Madrid, such as Iker Casillas (on 17 occasions), Keylor Navas (5) and Diego López (4).

Hoping to lift the Cristiano Clasico curse

Lionel Messi has scored 23 goals in LaLiga Santander this season, and he'll be desperate to add to that total against Real Madrid in El Clasico this coming weekend.

The Argentine failed to score against Los Blancos in their earlier meeting this season, and he hasn't managed to net or assist in any of his last six games against the current Spanish champions, not doing so since Cristiano Ronaldo left the capital for Juventus in 2018.

In fact, his last goal against Real Madrid came in Matchday 36 of the 2017/18 season in a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou.

Having had an excellent record against Barcelona's most bitter rivals - scoring 21 goals in his first 27 games against them - he has since scored just five in his last 17. Messi will face Real Madrid on Saturday hoping to end his bad run against them, and he's been in incredible form for the Catalans since the turn of the year.

With this next Clasico possibly being his last for Barcelona, he'll undoubtedly be desperate to leave his mark and continue the Blaugrana's charge towards the LaLiga Santander title.

Source: FC Barcelona / Marca