Saturday 2nd April. 6:30PM. Sky Sports 2
Following the international break, La Liga football returns with the world’s hottest fixture and we simply cannot wait. Barcelona. Real Madrid. It can only be el Clasico.
The visitors may be out of the title race, but they’ll be eager to avenge November’s humiliating 4-0 defeat at the Bernabeu. But it certainly won’t be easy for Zinedine Zidane’s men as they prepare to take on the world’s current best.
This game never fails to deliver. Prepare yourselves for a thriller.
Can Barca Hit The Big 40?
After winning the treble in Luis Enrique’s first season in charge, the possibility of seeing improvements at the Camp Nou in 2015/16 looked virtually impossible. However, the Catalan giants have somehow managed to find an even higher level of performance and enter Saturday’s Clasico looking to register a 40th straight match without defeat.
The run, which stretches back to early October includes 32 wins, a Club World Cup trophy and goals, goals, goals. The trio of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi has been even greater since the Argentina star’s return to action. If they perform as they did in the reverse clash, Keylor Navas and the Real Madrid defence could be in for nightmares. Messi in particular will be eager to score following career goal 499 for Argentina in midweek. Wouldn’t it be fitting if he bags his 500th in the Clasico?
Attack isn’t Barca’s only strength by any means, with Enrique’s men conceding just 10 goals in 15 home league matches. The only issue that may hamper them is the fact they’ll have one eye on Tuesday’s crucial Champions League battle with Atletico.
But there’s very little chance of that getting in the way of excitement in the Clasico.
Los Blancos Not Waving The White Flag Yet
Zidane’s men may be 10 points adrift, but they won’t be giving up on the Liga title until it’s finished. Even a win at the Camp Nou is unlikely to give them a serious hope of winning the domestic crown, but it would certainly go a long way to rebuilding confidence in what has been a very difficult campaign.
The Blancos have improved since Zidane took over and will certainly be eager to have a big say in the Champions League given their favourable draw against Wolfsburg. However, they’ll still be desperate to inflict some misery by ending the run of their arch rivals at 39, and won’t be taking this game easy.
There’s no question that Cristiano Ronaldo will be out to prove a point while the visitors are far more potent now that their main man is supported by Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale once more. Whether they’ll receive enough ammunition against Barca’s possession play remains to be seen, but we know that the trio will cause a threat.
These contests are always phenomenal, irrespective of league standings, and this one should be no different. Hopefully we’ll win some money too.
Barcelona v Real Madrid Betting
With home advantage on their side, Barcelona are the heavy favourites at 4/7 with Bet365 while Real Madrid can be backed at 15/4. The draw, meanwhile, is available at 7/2.
As good as Real Madrid are, it’s difficult to see them ending the Barcelona run. The gulf in quality was very evident in the reverse clash earlier this season while Barca also won last season’s corresponding home fixture.
We think that the qualities of those attacking stars will put Madrid to the sword. Unfortunately, the away side are vulnerable to letting their heads drop once they fall behind. If this happens here, it could be a big win for Barcelona.
The main difference for Barcelona this season is that Suarez has evolved into his role perfectly. After missing the start of last season through suspension, he worked his way into the team leading into the run-in of that unforgettable treble. Now, though, he is very much a star in his own right.
Only Ronaldo has scored more goals than the Uruguayan this term, who will be in great spirits after finally being allowed to return to international football last week. He scored twice in the 4-0 thrashing in the Spanish capital, and we’re backing him to repeat the feat here.