Barcelona travel to Madrid on Sunday for the latest edition of El Clasico. Even with the 15 point gap separating the two sides in the table, this will still produce great theatre. Barring a major collapse Real Madrid will win La Liga this season. Los Blancos also have an eye on claiming their 14th Champions League title which is exactly why they brought back Carlo Ancelotti. Barca have had a disappointing domestic campaign but that could be boosted with a win over their old rival. Xavi’s men earned a spot in the quarterfinals of the Europa League after drawing with Galatasaray on Thursday. Although that’s great, it does give Real Madrid the distinct rest advantage.
The big news heading into this match is that Karim Benzema has been ruled out through injury. He has been in great goal scoring form the last month and his presence will be missed. I suspect Ancelotti will bring Isco into the fold but the main attacking threat will be Vinicius Junior down the left flank. He draws a 38 year old Dani Alves and this will be a fascinating battle of speed and skill vs experience. I suspect Alves will get plenty of help but he’s definitely got his work cut out for him and I like him to be booked (+135 on FD).
If Xavi opts for a front three of Aubameyang, Torres and Dembele there’s more than enough quality to give the Madrid defense trouble. Casemiro will be tasked with shielding the back four and the Brazilian is always a prime candidate to pick up a yellow (+100 on FD). The experienced duo of Modric and Kroos will attempt to control the tempo and launch Madrid’s counter attacks. I’m optimistic we get an open, end to end game with the international break coming up.
I don’t see either team keeping a clean sheet but I don’t think there’s enough value for both teams to score at -154 (on FD) for me to make a bet. The draw is calling my name at +240 and that’s the way I’m going to play it. I’m also going to put a half unit each on the bookings I mentioned earlier. An exact score of 2-2 at +1200 is worth a sprinkle as well.