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Prediction: Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Verdict: Over 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 6/5

Bookmaker: William Hill

La Liga holders Barcelona head into the El Clasico clash after the disappointing performance at Anoeta and trailing their bitter rivals no fewer than six points. This means that los Blancos have got a unique chance to make a giant step towards the league trophy so early into the season, although the Catalans will give their best to spoil Real Madrid plans.

Barcelona

It’s been a while since Barcelona last made so many slip-ups early into the season, and they now face an uphill struggle to get their campaign back on track. Back to back draws with Malaga and Real Sociedad allowed Real Madrid to go six points clear at the top, while the 3-1 loss to Man City in the Champions League was the third poor result in November that fortunately did not prove costly. Everything suggests that team’s latest dip in form is the result of Andres Iniesta’s absence, as the veteran clearly remains a key creative outlet in Luis Enrique’s team. The MSN trio was expected to compensate with some strong performances up front, but their supply was cut off in the last few games. The good news is that Andres Iniesta has been stepping up his recovery from injury and is expected to be in contention bar last-minute setbacks, but it remains to be seen whether he will be risked from the start. However, his absence cannot be considered an excuse for some under-par performances of late as such a strong team cannot afford to depend too much on a single footballer, not matter how good he is. Having lost two of last three home games vs Real Madrid, Barcelona will have an extra motivation to give their best in Saturday’s encounter, but they will be under pressure to to the fact that a defeat would prove quite costly.

Team News

Given the importance of the match, Luis Enrique could decide to play Andres Iniesta from the start, in which case Andre Gomes would be dropped.

Samuel Umtiti and Arda Turan both face fitness tests, but Jordi Alba and Jeremy Mathieu should be in contention for starting positions.

Real Madrid

After going all the way to win the Champions League trophy last season, Real Madrid now want to prove their worth on domestic stage as well, and things have been going even better than expected so far. Los Blancos are unlikely to pip Borussia Dortmund to the first place in their qualifying group, but they have already created a six-point advantage over Barcelona in La Liga and now have an opportunity to make it nine. Real Madrid have yet to lose in the current campaign, having won ten of thirteen matches, and they are currently on a six-match winning run in the league. While recording a number of resounding wins, los Blancos were also able to grind out several victories, which appears to be a new-found quality. The only worry they have at the moment is a serious injury to star player Gareth Bale, who is expected to miss around four months of action after undergoing an ankle surgery. Following the somewhat fortunate victory against Sporting Gijon, where los Blancos came close to squandering a two-goal lead, the team will have to show improvement when facing Barcelona or else they could be in problems.

Team News

Lucas Vazquez is expected to deputise for Gareth Bale on the right flank, but Raphael Varane should be fit to play after recovering from injury.

With Alvaro Morata and Toni Kroos out injured, Karim Benzema and Mateo Kovacic should keep their places in the starting line-up.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Both teams scored in 19 of their last 20 meetings
  • Real won three of last five matches at Camp Nou (L2)
  • Three goals or more were scored in their last nine meetings
  • Real won six straight La Liga fixtures
  • Barcelona should have Andres Iniesta back to the side

Conclusion

El Clasico matches are always entertaining affairs that produce plenty of goals, and we fully expect the trend to continue. There have been three goals scored or more in last nine matches between Barcelona and Real Madrid, meaning that over 3.5 goals looks a good bet here.

Verdict: Over 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 6/5

Bookmaker: William Hill

Thu 1 Dec, 2016
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