El Clasico usually brings plenty of drama and goals, but we think there is value in opposing a high scoring opening gambit at Camp Nou on Sunday
For the first time since 2007, Barcelona and Real Madrid meet without either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch.
Ronaldo will surely be watching the game from his new home city of Turin, while Messi will be in the stands at Camp Nou having fractured his arm in last weekend’s win over Sevilla.
That victory against the Andalusians ended a run of four La Liga matches without a win, while a 2-0 Champions League win over Inter Milan has helped improve confidence in the Blaugrana camp.
Madrid meanwhile ended a five match winless streak with a 2-1 European win over Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday, yet the margin of victory was not enough to quell some of the doubts that have arisen following their long barren spell.
Real Madrid are the only side to have won at the Camp Nou since Ernesto Valverde took over last summer, with Los Blancos recording a 3-1 win there in the Spanish Super Cup last August.
Madrid are offered at 7/2 (4.50) with bet365 to claim a win, while Barca are priced at evens (2.00) and the draw can be backed at 14/5 (3.80) .
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With Messi missing, coach Ernesto Valvdere chose to bring midfielder Rafinha into the starting eleven on Wednesday night and the decision was vindicated as the Brazilian scored.
He could keep his place, although Ousmane Dembele might also be an option despite reports of him turning up late to the Camp Nou for the game with Inter Milan. At the back, Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen remained injured.
Real Madrid’s only injury concern is Dani Carvajal, with the Spain international having missed the last three weeks.
Real Madrid’s difficult run has been down to their surprisingly poor return in front of goal, with the European champions scoring just once in their last four La Liga matches.
Los Blancos have enjoyed plenty of possession and dozens of shots in each game but have been denied by a combination of poor finishing, excellent goalkeeping and a lack of luck.
acking goals in Clasicos is almost always a profitable venture, yet perhaps this clash could be a little different.
With Real Madrid not firing on all cylinders and Barcelona without their main source of goals, there could be some interest in backing a cagey opening.
Tips and predictions
Opposing a goal before 25 minutes at 5/6 (1.83) appeals, while bolder punters could be interested in the price of 7/2 (4.50) for a goalless first half.
Three of the last five league Clasicos have seen under 0.5 goals in the opening 45 minutes and given the context of Sunday’s match, backing a repeat is an attractive option.