There’s more than just bragging rights at stake in the 246th edition of El Clasico on Saturday as both Barcelona and Real Madrid look to usurp Atletico Madrid at the top of the table in the undoubted highlight of round 30 of La Liga.
After a slow start, the giants of Spanish football have managed to reel in Atleti and a win for either would see them end the day in first place.
Having taken 40 points from the last 42 available, Barca head to Madrid the favourites to win the Clasico at
13/10. Ronald Koeman’s men have certainly improved since losing the reverse fixture in October but at
19/10, it might be worth taking the value on a home win for an improving Real side.
Big Game Failures Overshadow Barca Revival
Reigning Spanish champions Real head into this game off the back of an accomplished 3-1 win over Liverpool in the Champions League, extending their unbeaten run to 12 matches in all competitions. Zinedine Zidane’s side appear to be peaking at just the right time as the silverware starts to come out and were impressive at both ends of the field when beating the Reds.
Real’s defence coped admirably without both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane against Liverpool and will need to be as sharp for the visit of Lionel Messi and co, Barca having netted six times in their last away game at Real Sociedad. Messi had a hand in three of those goals and has a history of raising his game for the Clasico, scoring a record 26 times in the fixture.
20/21 to end a run of six Clasicos without a goal by scoring anytime, while Karim Benzema, one of the men seeking to hunt Messi down in the race for La Liga’s golden boot, is
1/1 to continue his excellent recent run in front of goal. Benzema has netted in his last seven league outings and the Frenchman’s goalscoring form is a big reason why Real are still in the fight for top spot.
Come crunch time in last season’s title race, Real were able to string together 10 consecutive victories to secure a 34th league crown. That kind of pedigree is tough to ignore, while Barcelona have yet to show against a high-class opponent that they can cut the mustard, their 4-1 loss to PSG in the Champions League in February having left an indelible mark.
With Real having got their act together, it is worth taking a chance on Zidane’s underdogs to do the double over their great rivals.
Betis Battle Awaits Atletico
Whatever the outcome of Saturday’s Clasico, Atletico get their opportunity to respond on Sunday when they head south to face Real Betis. Los Verdiblancos have been one of the form sides in La Liga in the second half of the season but were held to a disappointing draw by Elche last time out, while they have won just one of their last 18 meetings with Atleti.
A rare triumph over Diego Simeone’s side would boost their aspirations of European qualification but Manuel Pellegrini’s men are tough to beat at the Benito Villamarín, winning five of the last six in the league. That doesn’t bode well for an Los Colchoneros team who have found life on the road tough recently, winning just one of the last four in the league away from home.
With plenty at stake and both teams having taken a cautious approach to games recently, under 2.5 goals at
20/33 certainly makes sense. Five of Betis’ last six have featured less than three goals, while only one of Atletico’s last 10 matches has gone over 2.5 goals.
With Atleti starting to feel the heat in the title race, and without Luis Suarez and Marcos Llorente, there’s every reason to suspect a Betis side who have only lost twice in the league in 2021 can take something from this game with Betis/draw double chance at
Los Che Stalking Wounded Sociedad
Valencia might be happy to switch their focus back to matters on the pitch after all the controversy that surrounded their 2-1 loss to Cadiz last time out. That was a fourth successive away defeat for Los Che but they now return to the Mestalla, where they have been very good of late.
Javi Gracia’s side have collected 13 points from their last five outings on their own pitch and are
13/5 to claim the scalp of a Sociedad side riddled with injuries. The Basque outfit could be missing as many as nine players for Sunday’s encounter, including key midfield duo David Silva and Asier Illarramendi.
The players they do have available have been busy, being taken to extra-time in last weekend’s Copa del Rey final success over Athletic Bilbao before facing their Basque neighbours again in a 1-1 league draw on Wednesday. Their away form has been patchy of late and it is worth opposing them with a fresher Valencia side that has only failed to score at home three times in 14 outings this season.
*All odds correct at time of writing.