Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 6/5
With the El Clásico taking center stage this weekend, Barcelona will host defending champions Real Madrid at the Nou Camp on Saturday afternoon.
Starting with the hosts, while Barcelona might have seen Hungarian outfit Ferencvaros ask them a string of questions when opening their Champions League campaign earlier in the week, the Spanish giants did manage to secure a 5-1 win on their European return. Desperate to make a domestic return to winning ways after getting hit with a shock 1-0 defeat away at Getafe last weekend, the questions still remain as to whether new boss Ronald Koeman is the man to guide them back to the La Liga title. Clearly still in the midst of a rebuilding job after their stunning Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich over the summer, the former Holland Head Coach could be calling on one of their brightest young starlets to lead their charge in Saturday’s El Clásico. While Lionel Messi might have converted from the spot on Tuesday night after reluctantly deciding to stay in Catalonia, it could be worth keeping an eye out for Ansu Fati this weekend. Also finding the net on European duties, the 17-year-old has racked up three La LIga strikes so far this season.
Still suffering with a knee injury, Barcelona will once again be without Marc-Andre ter Stegen between the sticks.
Elsewhere, while central defender Samuel Umtiti is also expected to miss out, they will be able to call upon both Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets.
As for the visitors, coming off the back of what was their own stunning European defeat in midweek, Real Madrid have the feel of a club that could be on the verge of another crisis. While Barcelona’s collapse last season might have hidden some of the glaring issues in the Spanish capital, Los Blancos were hit with a shocking 3-2 defeat at home against Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday evening. While the midweek guests might have had a long-list of first-team stars missing due to COVID-19, their inexperienced squad ran away to a 3-0 lead at half-time. While Zinedine Zidane’s men might have mounted a dramatic charge in the second 45, the mood in their camp should be at a low after another worrying display. Putting in another shock display last time out on La Liga duties last weekend, the defending champions were hit with a 1-0 loss at home against top-flight returners Cádiz. However, it should be noted, when they last faced off against their bitter rivals back in March, they did secure a 2-0 win at the Bernabéu.
While he still might be set to face a late fitness test after their horror showing on Wednesday, skipper Sergio Ramos is expected to feature and should start alongside Raphaël Varane.
However, Los Blancos will definitely be without the likes of Eden Hazard, Dani Carvajal and Martin Odegaard.
Key Factors to Consider
- When the two sides last faced off back in March, Real Madrid picked up a 2-0 win at the Bernabéu.
- Three of the last four meetings between Saturday’s opponents at the Nou Camp have finished in a draw.
- However, 16 of the last 17 matchups between Los Blancos and Barcelona in Catalonia have seen both teams find the net.
- Barcelona and Real Madrid were last seen on La Liga duties last weekend getting hit with 1-0 defeats against Getafe and Cádiz.
- Ansu Fati has scored four goals in his five matchups across all competitions this year.
While many might be expecting a string of chances at both ends of the Nou Camp pitch this weekend, we expect that a cagey encounter could be on the cards on Saturday afternoon. With both Los Blancos and Barcelona playing out their own shock 1-0 defeats against Cádiz and Getafe respectively last time out on La Liga duties, there is no doubt that both sides are a million miles away from their tantalizing best. With the last El Clásico in Catalonia ending in a 0-0 stalemate, we’re backing another low-scoring encounter in Spain’s standout fixture.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 6/5
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