It’s the third El Clasico of the season already, as Barcelona host a resurgent Real Madrid at Camp Nou.
Barcelona are the favourites at 10/11 with Pinnacle, whereas a win for Mourinho’s men can be backed at 10/3 with Stan James. Honours even is available at 3/1 with William Hill.
Things you don’t hear in football number 68: ‘you know what, it’s been a while since I’ve seen Barca and Real play each other…’ It used to be that El Clasico was the centre point of the season in La Liga – days if not weeks of build up and post match analysis. Now, after 15 matches between the two in the last two years, I can’t be the only one who now thinks ‘El Clasico is on, it must be a Sunday…’ instead? It will still be a fascinating spectacle, it always is, and always will be with Ronaldo and Messi in the building, but there may be truth to the old adage about eating steak every day…
It was only a couple of weeks ago that there was talk of a crisis in the Madrid camp – a poor start to the season, Mourinho claiming that he wanted to sub most of the team at half time and that he didn't have a team, Ronaldo sticking his bottom lip out like a petulant teenager – it looked like being one of ‘those’ seasons for Madrid. Since the defeat against Seville that prompted most of this, someone has lit a fire underneath them – four wins on the spin, including one against Man City, and scored 14 goals in the process. Ronaldo has scored six goals in four days – back to back hat-tricks. Barcelona have no such worries at present, the transition from Guardiola to Vilanova (I’ll admit, I had to Google him…) has been pretty much seamless, winning eight of their nine games this season (the sole defeat coming to Real in the Super Cup).
Straight off the bat, this game guarantees goals. The last eight games have all gone over 2.5 goals, and five of them have gone over 3.5 goals. Over 2.5 goals can be backed at 7/12 with 32Red, however I am recommending over 3.5 goals, at 11/8 with Paddy Power. I reckon that this game will also get off to a flyer, so I will be backing over 1.5 first half goals, at 7/5 with Stan James.
Moving onto who’s going to score the goals, and it’s tough, because neither side has a regular, recognisable, talismanic striker who knows where the back of the net to pick as first goal-scorer. Sure, Messi and Ronaldo are ok and all, I mean they’re useful squad players, but you have to feel that both sides will be on the lookout for improvements… So, pick your poison, who do you back in this game? I've always been on the Ronaldo side of the fence. I can’t justify it, there’s no logic behind it, and I've got no stats to back up his performances vs Messi’s. I just prefer him. He’s also 13/10 to score any time vs Barcelona. Let me just repeat that – if you put £10 on Ronaldo to score anytime against Barcelona, Coral will give you a total of £23 back. That’s not a misprint. I've checked with Coral twice, and they seem quite happy with this ridiculous state of affairs. I'm off to re-mortgage my house and stick it all on Ronaldo to score any time. He’s in ridiculous form, and he’s score in the last five matches between the two. I just can't see how he won't score again on Sunday.
Finally, it’s always worth having a high scoring long shot correct score in games like these, where goals are pretty much guaranteed. I fancy this game to finish 3-2, although I'm not quite brave enough to predict which side will have the three. It’s 20/1 that Barcelona win 3-2, and 33/1 that Real win 3-2, both with Stan James. Pick your favourite, or Dutch both results like I will do…
Over 3.5 goals @ 11/8 (Paddy Power)
Over 1.5 first half goals @ 7/5 (Stan James)
Ronaldo to score anytime @ 13/10 (Coral)
Correct score 3-2 to Barcelona @ 20/1 or Real @ 33/1 (Stan James)
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