No Ronaldo or Messi but El Clasico Still The Biggest Game in Club Football

For the first time since Real Madrid’s 1-0 victory over Barcelona back in December 2007, El Clasico, the twice-yearly La Liga clash between the giants of Spanish football, will feature neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Lionel Messi. Yet despite the absence of the two greats of the game, Sunday’s clash between the biggest two sides in club football still promises to be an intriguing battle.

And of course, it promises to be a bumper betting event too, with millions expected to be bet on the game across the world. We’ll be bringing you out tips later in the article, and as always, bet365 Sport is a great place to bet. Don’t worry if you are not yet a member, sign up today with the latest bet365 Sport New Sign Up Bonus and you can be enjoying a flutter in no time.

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El Clasico – The Season so Far

Over the last few years, Real Madrid and Barcelona have been ensconced at the top of La Liga (along with Atletico Madrid usually) for the majority of the season and both sides rarely drop points. However, this season, there has been a marked change. Barcelona still sit atop the table, but they have looked more vulnerable than in previous seasons, holding just a one-point lead over city rivals Espanyol and surprise challengers Alaves. Real Madrid however lie seventh, four points adrift of Barcelona after nine. Games and with the pressure already building on their new manager Julen Lopetegui.

La Liga Table (Top 7)

Pos Team Ply W D L F A Pts
1 Barcelona 9 5 3 1 23 11 18
2 Espanyol 9 5 2 2 13 7 17
3 Alaves 9 5 2 2 12 8 17
4 Sevilla 9 5 1 3 20 12 16
5 Atletico Madrid 9 4 4 1 10 5 16
6 Valladolid 9 4 3 2 8 6 15
7 Real Madrid 9 4 2 3 13 9 14

Form this season (La Liga unless stated)

Barcelonavirtual sports

  • Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona (Supercopa Final)
  • Barcelona 3-0 Alaves
  • Valladolid 0-1 Barcelona
  • Barcelona 8-2 Huesca
  • Real Sociedad 1-2 Barcelona
  • Barcelona 4-0 PSV Eindhoven (Champions League)
  • Barcelona 2-2 Girona
  • Leganes 2-1 Barcelona
  • Barcelona 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
  • Tottenham 2-4 Barcelona (Champions League)
  • Valencia 1-1 Barcelona
  • Barcelona 4-2 Sevilla
  • Barcelona 2-0 Inter Milan (Champions League)

Real Madrid

  • Real Madrid 2-4 Atletico Madrid (UEFA Super Cup Final)
  • Real Madrid 2-0 Getafe
  • Girona 1-4 Real Madrid
  • Real Madrid 4-1 Leganes
  • Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Real Madrid
  • Real Madrid 3-0 Roma (Champions League)
  • Real Madrid 1-0 Espanyol
  • Sevilla 3-0 Real Madrid
  • Real Madrid 0-0 Atletico Madrid
  • CSKA Moscow 1-0 Real Madrid (Champions League)
  • Alaves 1-0 Real Madrid
  • Real Madrid 1-2 Levante
  • Real Madrid 2-1 Viktoria Plzen (Champions League)

It’s clear looking at the form table that Barcelona have enjoyed the better form, especially when you factor in competitions outside La Liga, Real have suffered five defeats already this season in all competitions and this has heaped the pressure on manager Julen Lopetegui and also the board, who have been accused of not replacing Cristiano Ronaldo properly since his summer £90 million move to Juventus.

Probable Teams

Barcelona (4-3-3) – Ter Stegen, Semedo, Alba, Lenglet, Pique, Busquets, Rakitic, Arthur, Coutinho, Suarez, Rafinha

Lionel Messi’s arm injury rules him out of the game at the weekend and means that Arthur and Rafinha will likely feature alongside Coutinho and Suarez as the forefront of a Barcelona attack that has scored 23 goals already this season (although mostly with Messi in the team). Defensively, Barcelona have had real issues, with Lenglet and Semedo in particular having a few teething troubles while Alba’s form has seen him omitted from recent Spain squads.

Real Madrid (4-3-3) – Courtois, Odriozola, Nacho, Ramos, Varane, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Bale, Isco, Benzema

Real Madrid have lost Brazilian talisman fullback Marcelo, who limped out of their Champions League win over Viktoria Plzen during the week. Nacho is expected to come in alongside the young summer signing Odriozola in the back four which will also feature Ramos and Varane. The midfield trio of Kroos, Casemiro and Modric will be key for Real in this game with Bale and Isco likely to supply the ammunition for Benzema in attack.

Top Tips for El Clasico

*Odds shown are correct as of Friday 26th October 2018 at 12.50pm GMT

  • Full Time Result – Draw – 14/5

This is a tough one to call. Barcelona’s form of late was on the down slide even with Messi in the team but since his injury, the Catalan side have struggled and it is clear that they are nowhere near as potent a threat as they are with him in the squad.

Real though are lacking confidence and there is real pressure on manager Julen Lopetegui, with many sources claiming that unless Real win this game, he could well be out of a job just 24-hours or so later.

However, while Real are relatively solid defensively, Barcelona’s real attacking threat is massively diminished with Messi’s absence and I can see Real limiting Barcelona to a single goal. With Barcelona’s defence so poor, I can also see Real grabbing a goal, despite them not being in the best of form. Hence I am backing the draw here.

  • Correct Score – Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid – 13/2

As I have already explained above, I think Barcelona, with home advantage, are still more than good enough to grab a goal against Real Madrid, but while Real’s defence is generally tight (although it has been less impressive this season), Barcelona’s has been very poor at times and as such, even if Barcelona do score, I fancy Real Madrid to score one themselves, hence the 1-1 selection here.

An alternative to this bet which gives you a bit more flexibility is to back the Result/Both Teams to Score bet which is a 10/3 shot and which would offer a pay-out on any scoring draw between the teams (1-1, 2-2, 3-3 etc).

  • Anytime Goalscorer – Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona) – 8/5

This market used to be a nailed on pick for Messi or Ronaldo in previous years, so it is interesting to see how the market plays out without them. Suarez is the short odds selection here with Bale the lowest price bet for Real Madrid, but I think with his ability at set pieces, especially given the number of free kicks that Real give away, Coutinho is a very solid option here at 8/5

An alternative to this bet is to back Coutinho to score at any time and the game to finish in a 1-1 draw, which is an Anytime Scorecast bet with bet365 and which pays out at odds of 22/1 should it be a winner.

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