This weekend, the biggest fixture in club football, Barcelona taking on Real Madrid, otherwise known colloquially as ‘El Clasico” will take place at the Nou Camp. This game promises to be one of the most open in recent years, especially with the two gladiators from each team, Lionel Messi of Barcelona and former Real Madrid ace Cristiano Ronaldo, both absent.
Ronaldo’s move last summer from Real Madrid to Juventus for £90m, may well have been good financial business for a player now 33 years of age, but his absence at the club has been keenly felt with Real languishing in seventh position in the La Liga table after the opening nine games and having already suffered one defeat in the Champions League this season.
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Barcelona have started better and lie atop of the La Liga table but their points total of 18 from their nine games is also a relatively poor return for the Catalan side and with Lionel Messi absent for this game due to an arm injury, their free scoring attack is likely to be massively weakened by the Argentinean geniuses absence.
In this article, we are going to take you through the build up for this game, looking at the recent form, probable team selections and form this season for both of the teams. We will then bring you our top tips from the game from bet365 Sport. Remember, if you want to join bet365 Sport, you can do so now with the latest bet365 Sport New Player Bonus.
La Liga – The Story so Far
Over the last few years, it has been customary for three teams, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, to run away with the top three spots in La Liga. However, this season there has been a change. Barcelona are still top, but their lead is just one point, Atletico are in fifth spot with Real Madrid an unusually low seventh in the table. A fact which is partly why new manager Julen Lopetegui is already under serious pressure to keep hold of his job.
As such, in terms of the two clubs, a win for Barcelona here would move them seven points clear of Real Madrid after 10 games of the season, a large gap, while a win for Real could cut Barcelona’s lead over them to one point and could also see the Catalan side lose their grip on top spot in the table.
La Liga Table (Top 7)
Form this season (La Liga unless stated)
- Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona (Supercopa Final)
- Barcelona 3-0 Alaves
- Valladolid 0-1 Barcelona
- Barcelona 8-2 Huesca
- Real Sociedad 1-2 Barcelona
- Barcelona 4-0 PSV Eindhoven (Champions League)
- Barcelona 2-2 Girona
- Leganes 2-1 Barcelona
- Barcelona 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
- Tottenham 2-4 Barcelona (Champions League)
- Valencia 1-1 Barcelona
- Barcelona 4-2 Sevilla
- Barcelona 2-0 Inter Milan (Champions League)
- Real Madrid 2-4 Atletico Madrid (UEFA Super Cup Final)
- Real Madrid 2-0 Getafe
- Girona 1-4 Real Madrid
- Real Madrid 4-1 Leganes
- Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Real Madrid
- Real Madrid 3-0 Roma (Champions League)
- Real Madrid 1-0 Espanyol
- Sevilla 3-0 Real Madrid
- Real Madrid 0-0 Atletico Madrid
- CSKA Moscow 1-0 Real Madrid (Champions League)
- Alaves 1-0 Real Madrid
- Real Madrid 1-2 Levante
- Real Madrid 2-1 Viktoria Plzen (Champions League)
Even from just a cursory glance at the form, it is clear that Barcelona have been the form team of the two, especially when factoring in performances in other competitions outside of La Liga. Real have been defeated five times already this season, three in La Liga, two in European competition, whereas Barcelona have lost just the once.
So what will the teams possibly line up like for the game? Let’s take a look and find out:
Probable Teams for El Clasico
Barcelona (4-3-3) – Ter Stegen, Semedo, Alba, Lenglet, Pique, Busquets, Rakitic, Dembele, Coutinho, Suarez, Rafinha
The key absence for Barcelona is that of Lionel Messi. Their talismanic midfielder, a key figure in this fixture over the years, will be hugely missed by the team, especially against a strong defence like Real Madrid; That increases the pressure on Suarez, Coutinho and Dembele to create the chances and score the goals the team will need to secure a win. Rafinha’s done well since coming into the side but for Barcelona fans, their big worry is their defence which has already shipped a worrying 11 goals in their 9 games in La Liga this season. Against an attack as potentially potent as Real’s that is a huge concern.
Real Madrid (4-3-3) – Courtois, Odriozola, Nacho, Ramos, Varane, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Asensio, Isco,, Bale
With Marcelo limping out of their Champions League clash with Viktoria Plzen in the week, young summer signing from Real Sociedad, Alvaro Odriozola could be in line to come into the team alongside Nacho, Varane and Ramos in defence. The midfield trip of Casemiro, Kroos and Modric will anchor the team and how well they can influence the game will likely directly influence Real’s chance of victory. The question mark for Real is who to play in attack, I think Bale will start in place of Benzema with Asensio coming in to a wider midfield role, although the French striker could well be a very useful substitute to use later in the game.
Our El Clasico Tips
*Odds shown are correct as of Friday 26th October 2018 at 12.50pm GMT
Tip 1- Full Time Result – Draw – 14/5
To me this is a game that will be decided in midfield and of the two teams, I think Real’s midfield is the better at controlling a game, while Barcelona’s is potentially more explosive. I do also feel that Real’s defence is stronger than Barcelona, while Barcelona’s attack, even minus Messi, is better than Real’s, or certainly more in form. As such, this will be a close one and I think the draw is the sensible bet to back here.
Tip 2- Correct Score – Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid – 11/1
Given the frailties in each of the teams and Messi’s absence in particular for Barcelona, I can’t see this being the home win that so many expect. Real are a quality side and they can raise their game against anybody, but seem to do so especially against Barcelona. As such, with Barcelona’s defensive problems, I can see both sides scoring a couple of goals in what could be an entertaining 2-2 draw.
Tip 3 – Anytime Goalscorer – Rafinha (Barcelona) – 11/4
The Barcelona star has done well coming into the side of late and has found the net on a couple of occasions. He has a knack for scoring key goals in big games too and at 11/4, I think he is an excellent value option for the home side in this game.