Los Bloncos have been on a free fall in recent weeks. Prior to the home loss to Man City in the Champions League on Tuesday, they had surrendered top spot in la Liga to Barcelona with 1-0 loss at Levante and had been dumped out of Copa Del Rey earlier by Real Sociedad.
Against City they were second best for much of the game. Despite scoring early in the second half against the run of play, they could not contain the marauding City midfield which run them rugged and scored two goals in 12 minutes with a spirited performance showing a gutsy determination and a superior tactical execution.
Zidane’s biggest headache has been the loss of Hazard to a season-ending injury. They have looked out of depth in all their recent tribulations. Trailing Barca on the logs and staring at a possible elimination from the Champions League, the fears of a trophyless season appear ever so imminent.
They have had a poor record against Barcelona in recent Classico. This particular one presents them the chance to steady their ship that is fast flowing towards the ebbs of mediocrity. The significance of Los Bloncos getting one over their arch rivals this Sunday cannot be overstated.
Barcelona had their fair share of disappointment in Europe this week when they travelled to Naples and came out with a 1-1 draw against Napoli, where midfielder Arturo Vidal was dismissed late in the game and defender Gerard Pique picking up an injury that is likely to rule him out of this Classico clash.
They shared the spoils last time they met at the Camp Nou in December in a rather dour goalless draw. The Catalans have been on a good run in the league. They have ridden the wave of a good run in the league to dislodge Real from the top of the table.
The exclamation point of this good run was the clinical 5-0 win over Eibar in their last match, in which six time Ballon D’Or winner Lionel Messi banged in four goals to remind everyone what he can still do on a good day.
Barcelona have also had injury concerns. Forwards Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele are both ruled out possibly until the end of the season. In a move that has generated a lot of debate, they invoked a La Liga provision and signed Leganes striker Martin Braithwaite well after the transfer window expired. Leganes meanwhile applied to be allowed to replace him but in a strange twist of events, their request was declined by the league igniting controversy over the fairness or lack thereof of the said provision.
That said, Barcelona still boast of a forward line that is the envy of many teams. Antoine Griezman partnership with Messi is starting to bear fruits. Teenage sensation Fosu has also been a revelation to them in the wake of the injuries to Suarez and Dembele.
Coach Setien will be counting on them to lead Barcelona to victory as they travel to the capital for the fixture that football fans in Spain and around the world are waiting for with bated breath.
It has been a tough week for both of these Spanish giants and they will both be looking to put these week’s setbacks behind them. The outcome of this fixture is likely to shape the race for La Liga and therefore there is everything to play for both of them.
We expect a fast-paced game that will present scoring opportunities for both teams. With the formidable forwards on both sides, BTTS @ 1.50 and Goals Over 2.5 @ 1.60 look like good value for money. Our last betting tip for the game is Real Madrid Win @2.20. With Real Madrid eager to get back on track, the Bernabue support is likely to will them over the top.
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