Barcelona v Real Madrid, Nou Camp, Sunday, 8pm
FORM goes out of the window in derbies so it’s always tricky trying to predict matches such as El Clasico.
Barcelona v Real Madrid games are always anticipated even though they seem to come around much more usual than in past seasons due to many meetings in cup contests.
Luis Enrique has dismissed talk of his side starting as favourites with just a point separating them at the top of the table but with home advantage and in a rich vein of form it’s difficult to look past Barca.
With Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in imperious form Barcelona have won 17 out of their last 18 games and three points would put them clear at the top. However, they’ve been wasteful in some games and while they edged Man City by one goal in both legs of their Champions League tie they made enough chances to reach double figures over the two outings.
That must be a worry for Enrique and of course they’re facing opposition who boast the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
With such talent on show we always expect goals and it’s impossible to say anything but the way Real Madrid defended in their Champions League second-leg clash at home to Schalke which they lost 4-3.
So while I’m on Barca at 8-11 with the likes of BetVictor and William Hill my main bet will be over 3.5 goals at evens with firms inclduing 888sport. The last nine meetings at the Nou Camp have saw both teams score but that pays just 4-9 at Ladbrokes and over 2.5 goals is the same price.
Five of those nine have gone over 3.5 goals and the other four have finished 2-1 to one team or the other so over 3.5 would as the odds suggest have a 50-50 chance. In fact according to opta no team has kept a clean sheet in this fixture since Victor Valdes kept out Ronaldo and co in a 2011 Champions League semi-final.
Messi was masterful against City on Wednesday and anyone backing him to score would have been cursing England keeper Joe Hart as well as the Argentine who was finishing at times was, well, a little messy.
He is 7-2 at bet365 and William Hill to score first and I’m having a piece of that. Suarez is 6-1 at BetVictor with Neymar 51-10 with 888sport. BetVictor make Ronaldo 6-1, Benzema 9-1 and Bale 10-1.
Messi has bagged 21 El Clasico goals in his career while Ronaldo has 14 and bet365 rate the world-class duo as 13-2 shots to score three or more between them on Sunday. Messi is 11-8 with bet365 to score more than Ronaldo (3-1) in at the Nou Camp. The tie is 11-8.
Over 3.5 goals
Messi to score first
(7-2, bet365, William Hill)