El Clasico Betting Preview – Could it be Messi’s time once again?
Saturday lunchtime brings the perfect pre-Christmas treat for football fans – the first La Liga El Clasico of the season. Barcelona travel to the capital top of the league and aiming to be only the fourth Spanish team to hit the 100-point mark in a calendar year. They’ll be welcomed by the new club world champions, Real Madrid. To say this is an eagerly awaiting contest is a huge understatement.
Barcelona are flying; unbeaten, top of the league and six points in front of their nearest challengers Atletico Madrid. And when Barca are flying it usually means that one man is in top form. Lionel Messi may have been overlooked in the Ballon d’Or stakes for the second season running, but when it comes to the first half of the La Liga season the Argentinian is the one to watch. Messi has a goal every 103 minutes in the league, striking 14 times in 16 games. His form at the Bernabeu always makes him a danger for Madrid, with five goals in his last four visits, including a hattrick in 2014 and a 92nd minute winner in last season’s encounter. The smart money is on Messi to continue his fine form and find the net once again. With William Hill, Messi is 7/2 to score the last goal and 18/1 to grab a hattrick.
When you talk about Messi, it’s difficult not to mention his arch nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese has struggled for goals in La Liga, not hitting his usual heights. CR7 has only hit the back of the net on four occasions in Spain’s top flight this season, with a goal every 244 minutes. He has however continued to break goal scoring records in the Champions League. He pipped Messi to the world’s top individual accolade earlier this month and will be looking to kick start his club’s league form and close the gap from their biggest rivals to eight points. He grabbed the winner in the final of the Club World Cup and has rubbished reports he may miss this match with a calf injury picked up in Abu Dhabi. If he does play, you can get odds of 3/1 for Ronaldo to open the scoring and 12/1 for him to be the one that fires his team forward with a hattrick with William Hill.
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Ronaldo and Messi are both likely to have their say on the result, but it also appears that Ronaldo is having his say on who should start alongside him. When the number 7 isn’t happy, it’s clear for all to see with his frustrations apparently pointing in the direction of Spanish international Isco. Isco has been in scintillating form this season while Gareth Bale has once again been out of the side through injury. Following the Club World Cup win and two cameo appearances from Bale as well as the winning goal in the semi-final, Ronaldo has stated he feels the team is stronger with the Welshman up front with himself and Karim Benzema. The question of whether Zinedine Zidane will acquiesce to his wishes is an interesting sub-plot to the encounter. If he doesn’t, Bale’s a smart bet to come off the bench and make the difference if the game is tight.
But will the game be tight? This season’s Spanish Super Cup encounter saw six goals in total with Madrid triumphing at the Camp Nou 3-1 and finishing the job 2-0 on home soil. The last 0-0 draw between the two sides in La Liga came in 2002, so you can always expect goals. Barca have triumphed on their last two league visits to face Los Blancos, scoring seven goals in the process – winning 3-2 last season and 4-0 the season before.
They go into the game in devastating goal scoring form winning their last two La Liga games with a combined score of 6-0. They’ve notched a total of 117 goals this calendar year and could equal the record of 121 if they manage a thumping on Saturday. Madrid recorded a thumping of their own in their only La Liga encounter this month, smashing five past Sevilla at home. Both sides go into the game full of confidence, but our money is on a Messi inspired Barcelona win. If that does happen, the title race will be all but over for Madrid, and questions will surely remain over Zidane’s position – unthinkable just a few months ago.
If you’re looking for a Christmas flutter on a Barca win or maybe even just for Sergio Ramos to pick up his fifth red card against the Catalans, view our list of the best new betting sites to pick the best new option to place your bets.
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