This Saturday the world will stand still for 90 minutes as two of football’s greatest sides lock horns for the bragging rights in Spain. Defending champions Real Madrid will take on current league leaders Barcelona at the Bernabeu in what could be an absolute cracker of the biggest derby in world football, if previous editions of El Clasico are anything to go by.
Real Madrid v Barcelona – H 1/1 (2.04) D 11/4 (3.75) A 9/4 (3.25)
All-conquering Real Madrid
Last season, Los Blancos achieved a feat no other European side has managed to do in the modern format of the Champions League – win back-to-back titles. On top of that they’ve clinched the Spanish league title for the first time since 2012, defying odds set by providers of internet betting in Spain.
(Make sure to check out Bet365 Sportsbook review for more info.)
However, less than 6 months after lifting the league crown, Real Madrid find themselves in 4th position on the table having collected only 31 points. Although they’ve played one less game than their arch-rivals Barcelona, it’s still a massive surprise to see them in this spot considering their stature as the continent’s most successful club with 12 European titles – the final 3 of them coming in the last 4 years.
Zidane’s poor record in the domestic league this campaign
All you have to do is look at the goal record so far this campaign to see the real picture of Real Madrid’s disappointing numbers in attack and cracks in defence, compared to the Catalan side. After 15 games in La Liga, Zinedine Zidane’s men have found the back of net merely 30 times, which averages to exactly 2 per game, which a stark comparison to some of their previous seasons where they routinely averaged 3 or more goals per match.
Additionally, having conceded 11 goals in the competition is not substantial, but the league’s top two sides Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have both conceded only 7 goals until this stage in the competition – this shows just how far ahead Real Madrid’s main rivals are ahead of them.
Barcelona’s ups and downs
The 2016/17 campaign hasn’t been easy for the Blaugrana side, as they’ve failed to defend the Spanish league title, and despite being one of the main favourites for the Champions League they’ve also failed to achieve that goal. Then at end of the season, Luis Enrique announced he was leaving his managerial post, and to make matter worse their Neymar decided to leave what is known as “Mes que un club” (in English: “more than a club”) for a world-record fee of €222m (his buy-out clause) to play for PSG in Ligue 1.
Will 80,000 fans at the Bernabeu silence the Catalan side? (source: Marca)
Barcelona used most of the money from Neymar’s transfer to buy reinforcements, most notably 20-year-old forward Ousmane Dembele for an astonishing €105m plus €40m in add-ons, only for him to play 3 official games before suffering a serious injury leaving him sidelined until next year.
Despite their misfortunes and their star player leaving the Nou Camp, Barcelona have managed to perform quite brilliantly in La Liga this season as they aim to wrestle back the title from Real Madrid. Under new manager Ernesto Valverde, the Catalans have gone undefeated in 16 rounds so far, having clinched 13 wins and only 3 draws in the process. Their stats speak for themselves, having bagged an impressive 42 goals, while conceding only 7, which has helped them create a 6-point gap between them and second-placed Atletico Madrid.
Verdict on this weekend’s El Clasico
Online sportsbooks in Spain favour Real Madrid to seal a victory in front of the home crowd, however Barcelona have a number of factors going in their favour: not only does the Blaugrana side have an envious form going for them at the moment, but also the fact that Bernabeu doesn’t seem to have adverse effect on them. On the contrary, Barcelona have thrived on multiple occasions previously while playing at the home of the royal club, despite being branded underdogs against Los Blancos in front of 80,000 strong support.