SATURDAY FOOTBALL MULTI OFFER
Neither side have quite started the season as they might have liked. Barcelona kicked off with convincing wins over Villarreal (4-0) and Celta Vigo (3-0), while last time out they downed Ferencvaros (5-1) in Europe, but in between they were held to a draw at home by Sevilla and tasted defeat on the road at Getafe.
Real Madrid fared a little better initially as they opened with three wins from four unbeaten games, but home defeats to promoted Cadiz and then a depleted Shakhtar Donetsk have raised question marks.
Thibaut Courtois was a busy man in those two outings, where Los Blancos conceded four times, and given the manner of those defeats another here would practically be considered a crisis in Madrid.
However, Sergio Ramos is expected back for El Clasico, having suffered a minor knee injury against Cadiz and then not featured at all in the shambolic midweek effort.
The vastly experienced centre-back has been missed in big games previously in Europe including losses to Juventus, Ajax, PSG and Man City all since 2017/18, so we’d expect the visitors to be more solid at the back upon his return.
Zinedine Zidane will be without Eden Hazard, Mariano Diaz, Martin Odegaard and Dani Carvajal, while Alvaro Odriozola is also a doubt, but most of those players aren’t regular starters.
He has Nacho to cover for Carvajal at right-back, while Hazard has often been missing for Madrid in any case as injury has prevented him from taking off.
Barca Injury Concerns
Ronald Koeman isn’t without any concerns of his own as Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti are yet to feature this season, with the former amongst the best in the world in his position, while Jordi Alba is still a doubt.
Although Barca could face an issue in defence, Sergino Dest has performed admirably at left-back and Neto, Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique have some experience playing together now.
Despite their transition state the Catalans will still be able to call upon the likes of Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati in attack, while other youngsters Trincao, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele – who is till only 23 – provide options from the bench.
Real Madrid +0.5 Asian Handicap
It’s difficult to oppose Barca at the Camp Nou, especially after the week Real Madrid have endured, but we’d want them at a bigger price in the outright.
Against the best sides they’ve faced on home turf since December they’ve drawn with Spanish outfits Real Madrid, Atletico and Sevilla, as Napoli were the only side they beat.
Given ter Stegen is absent in goal and key man Ramos is back for the visitors, Los Blancos look a tastier price to get something from this game having gone W2-D4-L1 at this venue since 2015/16.
Under 2.5 Goals
We’ve become accustomed to explosive head to heads with at least three goals in 23 of 26 clashes from the 2011/12 season to the end of 2018. However, only one of five subsequent matches have seen three strikes and at least one team has failed to score in each of the past four meetings.
Given nine of Real Madrid’s 13 league matches since late June have featured no more than two goals, including four of five this season, as well as how damaging a defeat for either side would be, we can see this one falling a bit flat.