Saturday, September 22, 2018

Prediction: Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Verdict: Draw

Best Odds: 13/4

Bookmaker: 888sport

Newly-crowned La Liga champions play host to Champions League finalists Real Madrid in a hotly-anticipated El Clasico which will be under great scrutiny due to Los Blancos’ refusal to form the guard of honour and greet the title holders.

Barcelona

The Catalan giants are ready to welcome their bitter rivals in the 237th edition of El Clasico this Sunday. The upcoming high-profile clash between the eternal foes will bear little to no competitive significance but still remains a hot matter of interest.

Barcelona head into the final El Clasico of the season having clinched a domestic double over the past couple of weeks but with a bitter taste in their mouth following a disappointing Champions League exit. Ernesto Valverde’s position at helm has come under huge doubt and will need to win the forthcoming game in order to boost his chances of remaining in charge of the Camp Nou outfit next year as well. The Catalans also head into the Sunday’s match eager to maintain their perfect La Liga record intact after going 34 matches without a defeat. The Real Madrid test will be a proper challenge to Barcelona’s highly criticized defense which – despite all the negative comments – remains the second-best in the Spanish top-flight. Barcelona allowed only 21 goals this campaign which is a stark contrast to Real Madrid’s 37.

Team News

Ernesto Valverde will have a full squad to pick from for the upcoming El Clasico.

The only two unavailable players are Arnaiz Diaz Jose Manuel and Marc Cardona Rovira, the two Barcelona B players who joined the first-team this season from the club’s second-string side.

Real Madrid

The La Liga title race might already be over but it won’t stop Real Madrid from giving all they got to claim the bragging rights and gain a massive boost ahead of the Champions League final in Kyiv.

Zinedine Zidane’s men have endured a mixed season. Los Blancos kept pushing hard at the international stage whereas their domestic suffered in return. Sitting third in the standings behind both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, the reigning European champions are playing to protect their image and stature. Real Madrid travel to Cataluña to avenge the 3-0 defeat from the first part of the season when Luis Suarez, Leo Messi and Aleix Vidal stunned the Santiago Bernabeu lot in a compelling manner. The reverse match also showed Real Madrid’s tactical inability to stop Leo Messi and that’s another aspect Zinedine Zidane will work on ahead the Sunday’s encounter. The Mateo Kovacic experiment obviously failed and Los Blancos will need to find an alternative solution to prevent Messi from making another push in race for the Golden Shoe award.

Team News

Dani Carvajal is set to sit through the El Clasico due to a thigh injury.

The in-form midfielder Isco will be another one on the sidelines with his shoulder injury.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Barcelona conceded 21 goals this season to Real Madrid’s 37
  • The Catalans head into El Clasico still unbeaten after 34 La Liga matches
  • Valverde’s men lost three of the last 5 El Clasico matches at home, winning only one of those
  • Real Madrid travel to Camp Nou flying on the back of six straight away victories
  • Messi is the La Liga top scorer with 32 goals on his tally, with 12 assists next to his name as well

Conclusion

Barcelona and Real Madrid lock horns in another edition of the El Clasico which brings the subject of the Pasillo – guard of honour – Real Madrid controversially refused to form ahead of this match. Widely perceived as disrespect towards the champions, such a move could be a mind game intended to throw Barcelona off the track.

Verdict: Draw

Best Odds: 13/4

Bookmaker: 888sport

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