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PREVIEW: Barcelona host Real Madrid in massively important ElClasico tie

Barcelona expected to be without Pedri, Araujo and Dembele for El Clasico

Vinivius Junior of Real Madrid - ElClasico Preview
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

With the LaLiga title race looking as tight as ever, the first edition of ElClasico for the season takes on extra significance! Ryan Liberty previews.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

To Win Match
Barcelona 16/10 | Draw 26/10 | Real Madrid 15/10

Barcelona

The pressure that Ronald Koeman coach is under at the moment is unimaginable, don’t be fooled by the odd victory his side have managed to produce recently. The pressure is there. This is Barcelona and the Nou Camp after all.

The Catalan side have managed to win just twice from their last five, they are seventh in LaLiga and are already flirting with an early exit from the Champions League.

To be completely honest, I’m not sure what has gone wrong for Barcelona. Yes, they lost Lionel Messi but, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, they still have exceptional players. Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Jordi Alba, Philippe Coutinho, Frenkie de Jong, Ansu Fati and Sergio Aguero are players I would argue could get into any team in Europe right now and make an incredible impact. And yet you have them all playing for that famous jersey and just simply flattering to deceive.

Nevertheless, they faced a steady test in Valencia to begin a real tough week for the club and managed to come away with a good win. Going down early they rallied back positively and turned the game around, although much like is the case with Manchester United, I credit that more to individual brilliance as opposed to an impressive system and team identity.

I thought the decision to gamble and essentially throw the kitchen sink at a bad situation paid off for Koeman. Playing Sergino Dest on the right was interesting, but it worked – so the coach is a genius, right?

Barca have a lethal attack and most of them are available for selection. I’m hoping Koeman consolidates his decisions by going for broke and really allowing his team to be unleashed against their bitter rivals.

Real Madrid

I think a lot of Real Madrid’s chances, and probably the confidence of their fans, were a bit too loosely based on the presence of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. I mean don’t get me wrong, they are classy players and true generals in the back, but I couldn’t always agree that they held the team together.

Los Blancos have also had a rocky start to their season, and yet they find themselves in second place – just three points off with a game in hand.

Real Madrid still possesses the players and the ability to hurt anyone, the defensive stability to keep everything together and, in my opinion, the manager to extract every drop from his players. And yet, they remain inconsistent.

Karim Benzema has now been embroiled in scandal. Modric seems to be concerned that players aren’t consulted enough about the decisions of FIFA and that’s not even mentioning the Kylian Mbappe distraction.

The reality is this side isn’t achieving what they are capable of! Thankfully their results on the road have resembled a Madrid team of old, winning four from their last five in all competition. However, they still don’t put teams away with conviction.

This probably isn’t going to be a game for the history books but I’m really hoping both teams, and especially their youngsters, use it as a sort of boost to restore a degree of normality to those parts of Spain.

Verdict: Both teams to score + Over 2.5 (9/10)

To pick a winner might be harder than you think. Both sides have blown hot and cold and I’m not sure going all-in on either team is worth the gamble. 

This weekend offers so manyexciting football games and with those multiples in mind, I think it’s best to put your money on both teams to score and over 2.5 goals. Sit back and hopefully enjoy an end-to-end game.

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