EUROPEAN football fanatic Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) highlights the best bets available for Sunday’s Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Barcelona v Real Madrid | Sunday 20.00 | Sky Sports 1
Phwoar, I’m excited. Are you excited? If you’re not excited, please could you click that little cross on your browser tab and go elsewhere? Go on, get lost. You’re not wanted around these parts…
Yes, Sunday night sees the return of the world’s biggest club clash with the Camp Nou hosting a pivotal Clasico encounter and if you're not throbbing with anticipation ahead of the battle, what the hell is wrong with you? As ever, the stakes just couldn’t be higher for the two bitter rivals in the La Liga title race and defeat for either side could spell disaster in their bids to be crowned Kings of Spain.
Victory for Barcelona would put the Catalans four points clear of Real, while success for Los Blancos would put the European champions back on top of the table with two points to spare. Madrid already boast the head-to-head advantage too, meaning any result other than a defeat could be seen as a major positive.
Barca understandably start as 3/4 (BetVictor) favourites. Luis Enrique’s side managed just a 1-0 win over Manchester City in midweek with Joe Hart in sensational form for the English side, meaning the Catalan giants have now won 17 of their last 18 games.
I'd love to compose a wonderfully crafted paragraph to lay down my obsessional love for Lionel Messi right now but I simply can't find the words nor superlatives to do the little fella justice. Anyway, Sid Lowe produced an epic column post-Man City; I can't compete with that!
So what about Real? Well Madrid have enjoyed a midweek off to prepare but the club remain in ‘crisis’ if you believe all the tabloid tales from Spain, having won just half of their previous six league outings. The first-half performance against Levante last weekend was close to what we’ve come to expect from Los Blancos but their intensity and aggression dropped in the second period, leaving coach Carlo Ancelotti again scratching his head.
The European champions have been boosted by the return of Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos and will be buoyed by their 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture back in October. Can their siege mentality and big-game instincts carry them to a second La Liga double over Barcelona in 30 years? No, is the short answer.
Since the experienced Italian with the uncontrollable eyebrows took charge, Real have struggled to match the best that Spain has to offer. A W1-D1-L5 return from seven La Liga clashes against Atletico Madrid and Barca is surprisingly awful and in their last six away league fixtures, they’ve lost all three visits to top-10 teams.
So are Barca the bet? I’d most certainly be siding with them but not at 3/4. Instead, add in Both Teams To Score and we can back Barcelona to win and BTTS at a slightly odd price of 24/13 (close to 2/1) with 888 Sport. Because… Both Teams To Score is an absolute banker for this game.
Yep, the last 17 Clasicos have resulted in BTTS winners with Over 2.5 Goals paying out in 15/17 head-to-head meetings since 2011; nine of those also ended up breaking the Over 3.5 Goals barrier. For all Barcelona’s good form, Luis Enrique’s men have leaked in all bar two of their previous nine La Liga outings at the Camp Nou; I’ve little confidence in them keeping Madrid scoreless.
You’ll find the prices on those aforementioned bets far too restrictive to back so instead, have a wee wager on the eternal rivals throwing up a game involving Exactly 3-4 Goals in Catalonia. Sportingbet are offering 27/20 on that eventuality and it’s proven a profitable play in 12 of those 17 Clasicos mentioned in the paragraph above.
Finally, I mustn’t leave without mentioning the claims for Over 1.5 Goals in the first-half at 11/10 with Betfair. Five of the last seven showdowns have thrown up at least two first-half goals and I can’t see Sunday’s clash being any different. With the world’s best players going for the jugular, this fixture rarely lets us down and you’d have to be mad to oppose a high-scoring affair.
Barcelona v Real Madrid – Barcelona to win and Both Teams To Score (24/13 888 Sport)
Barcelona v Real Madrid – 3-4 Total Goals (27/20 Sportingbet)
Barcelona v Real Madrid – Over 1.5 first-half goals (11/10 Betfair)
5/1 Barcelona or 6/1 Real Madrid to Draw or Win
New Paddy Power customers can take advantage of some enhanced prices for Sunday's game, with Barcelona on offer at 5/1 and Madrid or the Draw priced up at 6/1. Tempting, eh?
Did you know Bet365 offer up to a 100% bonus on winning accumulators from the top European leagues? Just place a pre-match acca (3 or more picks) featuring teams from the English, Spanish, German or Italian leagues and if your bet wins you'll pick up a guaranteed bonus. Sounds good eh?
Check out the Bet365 site for full details.