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Dec 19, 2017
Dec 19, 2017

La Liga Preview: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

Problems at home for the World Champions

Messi and Ronaldo: A tale of two seasons

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona Live Odds

La Liga Preview: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

The Bernabeu hosts Saturday’s El Clasico in the highlight La Liga game of the week. A Barcelona win would put them 14 points ahead of Real after only 17 games. Read on to find out if there is value on offer in the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona odds.

Live Real Madrid vs. Barcelona Odds

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Problems at home for the World Champions

Whilst Real Madrid celebrated their second consecutive Club World Cup win in Abu Dhabi, Barcelona opened up an 11-point gap at the top of La Liga.

Usually the Club World Cup coincides with the winter break in the middle of La Liga, however this season’s league schedule has been shortened due to the upcoming World Cup. As a result, Real are denied the luxury of a two-week rest. They will have to quickly recover from their travel and endure the addtional games.

The fixture list has not been kind to Real. They arrive back in Spain with a match against eternal rivals Barcelona fast approaching. The Catalans have benefitted from a run of playing only one game a week and should be well rested for the match at the Bernabeu. Real need a win to keep their title hopes alive. A defeat could even put their place in the La Liga top four at threat.

Barcelona have been in great form of late and are yet to be defeated this season. Ominously for Real, Barca have scored six goals without reply across their last two La Liga games. El Clasico is never as straight-forward as it may seem though, and this Barcelona side has weaknesses Real can exploit.

With Samuel Umtiti missing the game through injury, Real will be able to target whoever partners Gerard Pique in central defence. Likely starter Thomas Vermaelen has usually not been trusted in games as important as this. The alternative to Vermaelen is Javier Mascherano, a player who has already agreed on a January move to China.

Real have not been as poor this season as the points on the board suggest and they could take advantage of any weakness present in the Barca defence.

Messi and Ronaldo: A tale of two seasons

In many ways, the difference in the sides' seasons so far can be shown by the performances of their star players. 

Messi vs Ronaldo: 17/18 non-penalty goals and assists

Messi vs Ronaldo: 17/18 non-penalty goals and assists

Expected Goals per 90

Goals per 90

Expected Assists per 90

Assists per 90

Cristiano Ronaldo

0.75

0.28

0.32

0.18

Lionel Messi

0.88

0.81

0.39

0.31


Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo has produced strong underlying numbers. His output of 0.75 expected goals and  0.32 expected assists per 90 is the second highest in the league after Lionel Messi. Despite these strong numbers, Ronaldo and his teammates have failed to turn promising positions into goals.

Ronaldo’s actual goals and assists equate to less than half his expected output. This is true of Madrid’s key attacking players as Benzema, Isco, Gareth Bale, and Lucas Vazquez have also been underscoring compared to their total expected goals stat.

Messi’s actual output matches closer to his expected total. The same is true of the entire Barca side this season. The gap between the two teams is largely due to Real’s inability to turn shooting opportunities into goals. If Real can finally take advantage of the chances they create than Saturday’s clash could be closer than the league table suggests.

How could a red card impact the game?

El Clasico is known for being a passionate encounter. The fixture averages the most bookings per game across the major European leagues. Real Madrid have received three red cards in their last four games against Barcelona at the Bernabeu. Unsurprisingly, Madrid centre-back Sergio Ramos was the main offender with two of those dismissals to his name.

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona betting: Where is the value?

Saturday’s El Clasico could play a pivotal role in deciding the title race. Opening up a 14-point gap over their biggest rival is certainly a strong motivation for Barca, whilst Madrid know they need a positive result to start a realistic title challenge.

Real will need to apply pressure to the Barcelona defence and finish their chances more efficiently than they have so far this season. This could play into Barcelona’s hands since the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are capable of taking the game away from any team.

Barcelona will see a draw as a positive result so a bet on the +0.5 Barcelona handicap at 1.833* may offer value for bettors.

If Real Madrid can continue to create chances for their attack then it is only a matter of time before Ronaldo, Benzema and the rest start to convert. El Clasico at the Bernabeu would be the ideal time for this to happen. Barcelona are also more than capable of causing the Madrid defence problems so a bet on over 3.5 goals at 2.020* could be a popular choice.

Odds subject to change

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