La Liga Betting: El Clasico

What better way to get over your midweek Champions League blues, than to inflict a defeat upon your biggest rivals? That’s the situation both Barcelona and Real Madrid find themselves in, as they move into El Clásico.

Barça huffed and puffed but never managed to blow Chelsea’s door down, while Madrid only offered a glimpse of their abilities as Bayern Munich flexed all their muscles. Now, despite another leg remaining in those ties, attentions turn to Camp Nou and the biggest club game on the planet.

When they take to the field on Saturday evening Barça will be trailing Madrid by four points, and when they leave it the idea is that will be reduced to a point. Pep Guardiola’s team are currently 34 games without defeat at home, and are unbeaten against Madrid in their last 7 meetings in all competitions. On the last three occasions that Barça have won at home to Madrid, they’ve scored 8 and conceded 0. Guardiola meanwhile, has won 9 of the 14 Clásico’s he’s been in since taking the reins at Barça in 2008. For another victory Barça are found at 1.65 outright, while a HT/FT is a more profitable 2.55.

The message from Guardiola to his players will be simple: stay true to our game, and be ruthless. If there is any game that Barça wish to project their style then it’s El Clásico. Barça saw plenty of the ball at Stamford Bridge, but while their possession and passing figures increased, the one on the scoreboard didn’t. If they replicate that sort of pattern against Madrid, it could be essentially conceding the title to José Mourinho and his gleaming white juggernaut. For them to come unstuck again, you can find a total of under 1.5 goals at 4.80 and under 2.5 goals at 2.30.

Lionel Messi meanwhile has scored 13 goals in 18 Clásico’s, though he hasn’t scored in his last three. That will be something the little man will be out to amend. He’s at 3.50 to open the scoring, and 2.45 not to at all.

Éric Abidal and David Villa are long-term absentees while there remains a doubt over Alexis Sánchez. Otherwise it will be a full squad to choose from at this stage. Gerard Piqué was rested midweek though, and he’s set to feature here.

Real Madrid’s pressure stems from the fact at one stage they held a 10-point lead over their rivals, and a loss here would mean slowing the slightest of margins during the run-in. The incentive of course is that if they win, one hand will firmly be placed upon the trophy which has evaded them for so long. With Barça set to begin on the front foot, the devastating counter attack which destroyed many this season will be set to play a vital part. With that in mind they are 2.55 to get the first goal, and 1.38 to score outright.

Much will depend on Mourinho’s defensive attitude too. He could remove a body from the attacking mechanism and place another in central midfield to stem the Catalans’ flow. A draw will be enough, so a repeat of the Bernabéu game when Madrid were aggressively attacking seems highly unlikely. They’ll need to press the man in possession from midfield though, and relieve pressure off the defence.

5 times in the last 10 games a goal has arrived in the opening 20 minutes, so the in-play market is worth a look during that time. In those 10 games, only on a single occasion has there been a 0-0 and in seven of them both teams have scored. Both to score on Saturday, is found at 1.57. Cristiano Ronaldo is 2.30 to score anytime, and Karim Benzema at 3.35.

Ronaldo’s duel with Messi is always a feature, and they have a marker too. The Argentinean to score more goals is 2.05, while the Portuguese is at 4.50. For them to match each other, it’s 2.65.

A key market in the game will of course be cards. Madrid have received 47 yellow cards and 7 red cards. Barça meanwhile managed 29 yellow and 2 red. It’s virtually assured with what is on the line, this will get feisty. Sergio Ramos leads the dirty bunch, seeing seven yellows and one red. He’s at 1.50 to get a yellow, and 8.00 to get a red. Xabi Alonso, Pepe, Sergio Busquets and Dani Alves are other players worth looking at here.

Mourinho has his regular group all available, and after a poor midweek display Fabio Coentrao is set to make away for Marcelo. The ex-Chelsea coach has thrown a joker in his XI often too, so be wary of that.

Overall, we’re looking at this Clásico as one of the most intriguing ever. There is much at stake given the league situation, and also with both coming off the back of tough games in Europe – and with more next week.

PREDICTION: Barcelona to win 2-1.

BEST BET: A 0-1 AH is at 2.65 and looks tempting, same can be said for the HT/FT Draw/Barcelona at 5.00