THE first Clasico of the 2015/16 season arrives on Saturday evening and Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) highlights a number of excellent betting angles for the much anticipated contest.
Real Madrid v Barcelona | Saturday 17.15 | Sky Sports 2
El Clasico is number one. There’s no club game that can match the rivalry of Real Madrid against Barcelona whether it be footballing, political or ideological and Saturday night’s encounter should deliver the goods once more. If you’re uninterested in this bout, I doubt we’d get on…
This fixture features the world’s undisputed best players of their generation –Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo hog the headlines – but all over the park you’ve names and faces that would fill the majority of best XIs on the planet. It’s no surprise then that these two clubs have won three of the last five Champions League titles between them.
Everything is set for yet another humdinger of a clash and although we’re only coming into the winter now, the price of collecting maximum points from the weekend’s fixture could well open or close the La Liga title race.
That might sound like a horrid overreaction but following Real’s loss at Sevilla before the international break, Los Blancos now trail their hated enemies by three points. Defeat at the Bernebeu on Saturday night could have dire consequences for Rafa Benitez’s boys seeing as the Catalans could hold a six-point advantage with trips to both Madrid clubs, Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao and Celta all out the way before December…
Conversely, a win for Real would send Madrid back to the top of the table and with the hosts having W19-D3-L0 in their last 22 La Liga fixtures at HQ (and just one goal against in five this season), they shouldn’t be written off.
Despite the criticisms of Benitez in the aftermath of that Sevilla reverse, the former Liverpool boss has made the capital club a more rounded, stable and balanced side. He’ll have been boosted by the news that both Keylor Navas and Sergio Ramos are fit but his major quandary remains over the inclusion (or not) of a fully fit James Rodriguez.
Casemiro’s filled the defensive midfield role excellently for the hosts this term but James’ return would see Toni Kroos shift back into his unfavoured holding role and the Colombian lining up alongside Luka Modric. It’s a wonderfully exciting sight but Los Blancos would lose the balance and stability that cost them so dearly in last season’s biggest matches under Carlo Ancelotti.
In attack, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will be chomping at the bit but question marks remain over Karim Benzema’s mental state. Could the Frenchman’s off-field distractions leave him undercooked when his club need him most? Perhaps.
Interestingly, Real have W2-D1-L4 in their last seven La Liga matches when welcoming Barcelona to Madrid and in all competitions that record reads a paltry W3-D3-L6. But can we back the Catalans considering they’ve already been beaten at Celta and Sevilla and could be without Lionel Messi from the start?
The Argentine magician has been out of action for eight weeks and although he’s returned to full training, is unlikely to be in peak condition to play 90 minutes. Since Messi made his debut, he has missed only two Clasicos (2005-06 and 2007-08) and Barcelona did not win either.
Nevertheless, Barca have got by without him as Neymar and Luis Suarez have combined magnificently to keep the Bluagrana ticking along nicely, netting each of Barcelona’s last 17 goals.
With the two teams displaying signs of vulnerability and fragility, our best option is to avoid the Match Odds market and dip into a goals-based bet. The Clasico rarely lets punters down when it comes to goals and the last 18 have delivered winning Both Teams To Score bets.
In fact, since 2010/11 the giants of Spanish football have clashed a remarkable 22 times and BTTS has proven profitable in 19 of those fixtures with 17 matches featuring at least three goals.
Naturally, both options are too short to consider but you can combine a play on Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score at 4/6, which looks more than reasonable considering the historic trends. I’m in.
We’ll take that selection as a juicy starter before moving onto our main course and desert. Four of the last six head-to-heads have actually seen the Both Teams To Score selection bank inside the first-half and a repeat can be snapped up at a juicy 5/2 with William Hill. Barca have leaked before the interval in seven games already this season whilst Madrid’s league matches have featured two or more goals before the break on six occasions under Benitez.
Finally, of those aforementioned 18 fixtures, 16 broke the Over 2.5 Goals barrier and nine also reached Over 3.5 Goals. With a 50% success rate, even-money on Over 3.5 Goals is what we should be expecting, so the 13/10 (BetVictor) on offer represents fantastic value and should be taken as our main play on Saturday night.
For those looking to eke out slightly more value from the fixture, a convincing 13/18 (72%) head-to-heads have finished with exactly three or four goals – Sportingbet are offering 27/20 on a repeat.
Real Madrid v Barcelona – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (4/6 Bet365)
Real Madrid v Barcelona – Both Teams To Score In The First-Half (5/2 William Hill)
Real Madrid v Barcelona – Over 3.5 Goals (13/10 BetVictor)
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