The meeting between Real Madrid and Barcelona this weekend could be the craziest Clasico in a long time. Merengues and Blaugranas will meet at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, this Saturday, November 21 at 19:15.
There are a few things that make this version of El Clasico unique. First, Lionel Messi could return to action against Real Madrid. After being sidelined since September, Messi has been training with his teammates all week, and there’s a reasonable chance he could be on the pitch.
“Whether he plays or not is down to the coach, the medics and how he feels but he has been looking sharp in training,” said Barcelona striker Luis Suárez said on Wednesday. “However, it is the type of injury where there are risks for the future. Messi is a player that makes a difference in all games and in clásicos he has always made a big impact but we will have to see if he is ready.”
Now, first things first. Barcelona doesn’t really need Messi to beat this version of Madrid, and the numbers back it up. The team is the La Liga leader with 27 points after 11 fixtures; they enter this match with a four-game winning streak, averaging 2.27 goals per game throughout the tournament.
Also, Neymar and Luis Suarez have looked great together without Messi. The Brazilian has scored 11 goals this season, followed by nine scores from the Uruguayan.
Now, when talking about Real Madrid, there are bigger issues to tackle. The Merengues are second, just three points behind FC Barcelona, but –as crazy as it sounds- a loss in this game could cost coach Rafael Benitez’s job. Many players are upset because the playing style Benitez has put together is too defensive and not necessarily reflects the talent on the roster.
Madrid have become a defensive team that worries about their opponent first and then starts attacking. The Merengues are the slight favorites according to the La Liga Odds to win on Saturday, listed at 2.5 while Barcelona are at 2.75 and the draw is at 3.6. Those numbers are insane if you have watched both teams play this season.
For Real Madrid, it will be important to have their goalkeeper back in full form this weekend. Keylor Navas missed both World Cup qualifying matches with Costa Rica because of a strained muscle. Madrid have allowed only seven goals in La Liga this season, second best in the tournament; Navas conceded only three of those seven goals.
El Clasico Odds Real Madrid v Barcelona have Cristiano Ronaldo as the main man to score first in the game, rated at 4.5. He’s followed by Neymar at 5.0 and Luis Suarez at 5.5. Lionel Messi, despite being questionable for the match is at 5.5.
Last season Real Madrid played both El Clasico games better, yet each team won at home. However, a lot has changed since that; Benitez took over Carlo Ancelotti and FC Barcelona conquered another treble.
Most football fans will see the standings and think both teams are on the same level, but they are truly not. FC Barcelona are superior at this point in this season, and it would take Keylor Navas the game of his life to save Real Madrid. Bet Barcelona to win.