It may only be 38 days since the last time the two sides met, but the anticipation and excitement is still feverishly high for the 83rd Liga Clasico. Both clubs have had their internal strifes, subdued performances, moments of jubilation and last-minute comebacks in recent clashes, as the biggest rivalry in world football has lived up to its reputation. This game could well define their respective seasons; it might only be October, but an eleven-point deficit for Real Madrid would be an astronomical mountain to climb given the strength of this Barcelona team.
In a bid to regain fitness ahead of schedule, Gerard Piqué has been back training on his own. Vilanova will be desperate for him to recover, as Carles Puyol is ruled out with an elbow injury. Andrés Iniesta should return with either Pedro or Alexis Sanchez making way. David Villa is yet to start a game since recovering from a broken leg, but in 129 minutes played he has had five shots, got four on target and scored three goals.
Mourinho is likely to make three or four changes for this encounter. Modrić, Di María, Khedira and Coentrão will probably replace Kaka, Callejon, Essien and Marcelo. Benzema is expected to keep his place, following a superbly executed overhead kick against Ajax.
Barcelona just keep on winning, although late goals and favourable refereeing decisions have assisted. Frighteningly, they can still improve vastly and as the chasing pack begin to fall away, daylight could develop.
Was the Manchester City game a defining moment for Los Blancos? After four straight wins, they seem to be finding the kind of form they showed to win La Liga last term.
Goals are a guarantee between these footballing giants. In the last eight meetings there have been 31, with Barcelona getting 17 to Real Madrid's 14. Over 2.5 goals can be backed at 1.50; over 3.5 goals at 2.25.
The two favourites for the 2012 Ballon D’Or will once again do battle. Lionel Messi has 10 goals in all competitions, but has not scored for three matches. He loves scoring against Iker Casillas though; his 15 Clasico goals mean he is just three shy of Real legend Alfredo Di Stéfano's record. To add another he is at 1.65, while he is at 8.00 to equal Don Stéfano and bag three.
Cristiano Ronaldo comes into this match with six goals in his past two games, and has four in his last four visits to the Camp Nou. He will again hope to destroy the notion that he doesn't perform in the bigger matches. To build upon his 12 strikes for the season he is 2.00, whilst an extraordinary hat-trick of hat-tricks can be found at 12.00.
Who will blink first in this footballing game of poker? Who will come flying out of the traps? Questions abound ahead of a pulsating game that neither side dares to lose. Barcelona will know the importance of maintaining their cushion, while Real Madrid will be desperate not to slip further behind. A draw is good value at 3.75.
Sergio Ramos took to Twitter this week to explain the ongoing confrontation with his manager. "My relationship with Mourinho is very good, honest and straightforward. I respect his decisions and, for me, he is the best manager," said the Spanish international. Yet there has been speculation about a potential transfer to their El Derby rivals. Ramos is at 28.00 to score first and 10.00 to get sent off.
Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid (12.50)