Real Madrid are set to host one of the most eagerly awaited Clasicos against Barcelona in recent history this Sunday, with the outcome of the La Liga title hanging in the balance.
Los Blancos are out to wrap up the trophy they have steadily been closing in for months, while the reigning Spanish champions are trying to prevent their arch-rivals from running away with the title.
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Already favourites to win the clash at 11/10 (2.10), Real Madrid have been boosted to 10/1 (11.0). A win for Los Blancos would all but kill off Barcelona’s remaining hopes to defend their title, adding just another element to Spain’s fiercest rivalry.
Boosted by the news that Gareth Bale could be fit enough to play - albeit likely from the bench - Zinedine Zidane’s men are almost at one hundred per cent for the clash.
Tired legs from their hard-fought Champions League victory over Bayern Munich may be a factor, but the French boss can rest assured his squad is both deep, motivated and integrated enough to perform when called upon. The capital outfit have not lost in two straight Clasicos - both under Zidane, and their best streak since March 2013 - and a loss looks unlikely here, such is the high wave Madrid are riding at the moment.
Their chances of a fifth game unbeaten in seven ties for Madrid at the Bernabeu looks ever more solid with the wealth of firepower they have up front. With Cristiano Ronaldo hitting form at the crucial juncture of the season and Karim Benzema notching five goals in his last five home Clasicos, the La Liga leaders look easily capable of scoring in their 44th straight league game.
The variety available to them to net shows up in the fact they’ve struck 25 times from a set-piece, with the diversity of their scorers highlighted by the fact they top La Liga in terms of the 13 goals that have been scored by defenders.
And how their bench players have stepped up is not more clearly exemplified with how Alvaro Morata is the top-flight’s third best player in terms of goals that have earned his club more points - Madrid picking up 13 from his 12 goals - while Isco has the best shot conversion rate throughout the league, of those who have made five or more attempts.
With the hosts hitting top form in the business end of the season, and out to kill off their title rivals’ hopes once and for all, odds of 10/1 (11.0) on a Madrid win look top value indeed!Barcelona 16/1 (17.0) to beat Real Madrid
Outsiders at 21/10 (3.10), Barcelona have been boosted to 16/1 (17.0) to earn victory at the Bernabeu. The Catalans badly need a boost after bowing out of the Champions League and are virtually out of the La Liga title race, though three points in the lair of their fiercest rivals could swing things back around in their favour.
The suspended Neymar will miss his first Clasico since joining Barcelona but the Catalans will not be short of firepower, with Luis Suarez eager to add to his tally of four goals against Los Blancos since moving to Camp Nou in 2014. Already, the Spanish champions have scored 70 per cent of their 71 goals through their strikers - the highest in the Spanish top-flight this term.
As for all-time Clasico top scorer Lionel Messi, there will not be a better opportunity to end his goal drought of six games against Madrid having won more points with his goals than any other player in La Liga this season.
This is a time that Luis Enrique will be turning to his talisman most as Barcelona’s campaign arrives at a crossroads, and a moment of brilliance from the Argentine will not be unwelcome. Though looking off-colour of late, a Barcelona win courtesy of a moment of brilliance certainly cannot be entirely ruled out, making the 16/1 (17.0) a rare opportunity a splash for punters determined to back the visitors.
|Real Madrid 10/1 (11.0) or Barcelona 16/1 (17.0) to win for new Paddy Power customers|