Madrid and Jose Mourinho were left with battered pride after their trip to Barcelona back in November, Pep Guardiola’s men running away with the contest 5-0 in an awesome display of footballing prowess.
Real Madrid and Barcelona meet for the first of four El Clasico encounters in eighteen days, with each one carrying particular significance and, perhaps as importantly, local bragging rights.
With an eight point gap in La Liga and seven games to play, a win for Barca at the Bernabeu, a 6/4 chance with Betfred, pretty much sews up the league title for another year (and three from three for Guardiola) while a Madrid victory, 9/5 with William Hill, will keep the title chase alive for another week or so.
Recent form is quite hard to draw too much from; both sides have only lost four times all season between them but some punters may see significance in Sporting Gijon’s recent defeat of Madrid on their own patch, ending twenty-five straight home wins for Los Merengues.
Those who can see only a stalemate between the two (11/4 with Stan James) should perhaps be aware that the last seven encounters have had a winning conclusion and Barca have won the last five, four of which ‘to nil’. Another victory without reply for Barcelona is a large 4/1 with Paddy Power.
Barcelona’s only issues lie with the absence of Abidal, Puyol and Mascherano but the eleven they put out is still formidable. Mardid’s defence weren’t overly impressive against Spurs recently, allowing Spurs a number of chances early on, despite shutting them out. Villa and Messi should, once again, be the main threat, especially against Sergio Ramos who could be a weak point. The two talismans, Messi and Ronaldo, are both 11/8 to notch anytime with Boylesports while Ladbrokes have them both down at 5/1 to open the scoring.
Barcelona should have too much for Madrid here. Mourinho’s nine year unbeaten home record was snapped by Gijon that other Saturday and Guardiola comes to rub his nose in it. Whilst 9/5 about a Madrid home win looks utterly huge at first glance, we will happily side with Barcelona to win (6/4, Betfred) and even with a win to nil at 4/1 (Paddy Power) and a massive bragging right for the Culers.