Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
Barcelona V Real Madrid.
Saturday, 5PM. Sky Sports.
The biggest game in club football returns as Real Madrid make the journey to the Camp Nou, home bitter rivals Barcelona, for the first el Clasico encounter of the season.
As is the norm, the entire planet will be tuned in for the most hotly anticipated fixture in world football and this year there is an extra incentive thanks to the marquee summer signings made by each club. Whilst Barcelona finally captured the lavishly entertaining poster boy of next summer’s World Cup, Madrid broke the world transfer record in order to bring in English football’s PFA Player of the Year.
With the news that Gareth Bale is match-fit, the prospect of seeing the world’s most expensive player line up against the likes of Neymar and co is a mouth-watering possibility and one that certainly gives the fixture an added spark. It’s been a problematic start to life in Spain for the Welsh wizard but an el Clasico could provide the perfect stage for the ex-Tottenham man to finally shine. As for Barcelona’s summer addition, the youthful magician has shown glimpses of brilliance but a big performance against Madrid would do wonders for his reputation.
In truth, the Bale-Neymar contest is just another fascinating subplot that plays second fiddle to the main act. In Messi and Ronaldo, the two clubs unquestionably possess the world’s two greatest players. The debate over which is number shows no signs of ending anytime soon but having both share a pitch is a luxury that any football fan would be mad not to indulge in. A supporting cast of Iniesta, Di Maria, Benzema and Xavi simply makes it the perfect treat for sport gluttons everywhere.
Football fans across the globe are aware of the cultural significance behind this rivalry. However, this particular fixture holds great importance as not only is it the 225th competitive meeting between these two giants but it also comes at a pivotal stage of the season. Both teams have adapted to new management superbly. For Barcelona, a record-breaking start of 8 consecutive wins finally came to an end with the 0-0 stalemate at Osasuna last week. Nonetheless, 25 points from a possible 27 signals a fantastic opening quarter and a win here would cement their place as the early front-runners.
Madrid sit just three points behind and, despite losing to neighbours Atletico, will be confident that they can get the victory in the Camp Nou. The inclusion of Bale from the start would undoubtedly provide the team with a lift and that could be a key factor.
Martino and Ancelotti are two of the best tacticians in the game and the playing styles will definitely play a huge part. We’ll expect the home side to enjoy the lion’s share of possession but if Madrid can use the ball effectively then their explosive forward players could easily inflict Barca’s first loss of the season.
With just under 100,000 in attendance, and billions watching on TV, it’s set to be another encounter that lives up to its name. El Clasico: football porn. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.
BET TIP: Over 1.5 First Half Goals @6/5 with Bet365.