El Clásico: Barcelona vs Real Madrid

El Clásico: Barcelona vs Real Madrid

The first El Clasico of 2018 will be without both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi yet still has plenty of intrigue and drama as Barcelona know that Real Madrid are in crisis and do not want to give them any life line.

El Clasico, the meeting of the two Spanish titans, Barcelona and Real Madrid takes on a lot of signifigance not only on the pitch but also politically as the Catalan people of Barcelona and the Spanish citizens of Madrid share a turbulent history. Victory in this fixture gives the very lives of entire clans a boost, while defeat is soul crushing. This Sunday at the Camp Nou, the rivalry reignites.

El Clasico: Barcelona welcomes Real Madrid to the Camp Nou

Real in Crisis

What a rough few months this has been for Julen Lopetegui. 

The man who was the Spanish national head coach going into the world cup, was given Spain’s other dream, head coach of Real Madrid only days before the World Cup. However the public announcing of this hiring led to him being relieved of his Spanish National duties day prior to Spain’s first group game, the most inopportune time.

Then Lopetegui lost Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus. And after 9 league games, Real Madrid sit 7th in the La Liga table with only 14 points. They have gone winless in their last 5 games across all competitions, losing 4 during that stretch and at one point went 481 minutes without scoring a goal.

There are some reports that Lopetegui is already as good as sacked. So in a few short months he would have gone from the Spanish National and Real Madrid manager, to the unemployment line. But if there was ever one fixture for him to save his job, it is El Clasico.

And he may have been granted the stroke of fortune he needed…

Barca will be without Lionel Messi

This past weekend Barcelona defeated league leaders Sevilla and vaulted to the top of the table but it came at a price. Lionel Messi broke the radial bone in his arm and is expected to be out for the next 3 weeks. 

37 career games versus arch rival Real Madrid, Messi has scored 26 goals and tallied 14 assists and singlehandedly won this fixture on his own a number of times.

Real Madrid will not have to deal with their worst nightmare this weekend.

El Clasico odds via BODOG and Prediction

But even without Lionel Messi, Barcelona will be the favorites at home this Sunday. Here is the line provided by BODOG:

Barcelona -0.5 (+105) +105 o 3.0 (-130)
Real Madrid +0.5 (-125) +235 u 3.0 (+105)
Draw   +285  

 

It’s pretty fair to assume that if Real Madrid lose this game than Lopetegui is as good as out the door, but the absence of Lionel Messi from this game really helps a struggling Real Madrid defense as it will eliminate a multitude of problems.

Lionel Messi at Barcelona has always served the attack in multiple ways better than anyone else in the world can which is why he is regarded as perhaps the greatest to ever to play the game.

If he needs to be an out and out striker he will be, if he needs to create from deep or wide areas he can do that to. If he is asked to break the lines between midfield and defense by dribbling or passing he will do that better than anyone we have ever witnessed. If you need him to deliver from dead ball situations, no problem and with him not in the lineup it will show considerably.

Real Madrid have clear issues with scoring now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken his services to Italy. But on the positive side for them they have some key pieces are returning from injury.

Marcelo returned on the weekend and I suspect the opposite wingback, Carvajal is also close to fitness meaning that Lopetegui may be able to implement the system he wants which relies heavily on skilled play from wide areas.

I would wait for the team news to break and if both Marcelo and Carvajal suit up then the desperate Galacticos will be worth a shot.

PICKS: Under 3 goals (+105) and Real Madrid +0.5 (-125)

Real Madrid To beat Barcelona Odds
-125

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