Real Madrid v Barcelona – LaLiga
Real Madrid’s team news is mainly geared around the status of Bale who should recover from a knock, either starting or playing as a sub. Bale is fully available but the manager, frustrated with the constant injuries, may opt to use him as a sub and not rush him back. Varane and Pepe remain out so Nacho plays CB. At home they may feel obliged to be seen to go for the win and attack, and whilst a win would be an ideal result to all but secure the title, they aren’t going to take needless risks and can afford to settle for a draw. Their approach may be conditioned to an extent by how vulnerable Barcelona are looking. While Barcelona were knocked out midweek and have instability in the dressing room, the environment in Madrid is far more positive, confident and united. There is a sense that most things favor Real Madrid here, they look more committed, powerful and aggressive for certain, but this is the kind of game that anything can happen.
Barcelona’s season hinges on the result here, a win launches them back into the title race but anything less likely means it is the end of their faltering challenge. Due to that lack of spark and consistency on top of bad results, it is possibly a game where the players are outfought and lose discipline against a much more determined looking rival. Barcelona have only one absence of note but it’s a huge one, with Neymar banned. The club are appealing it but very unlikely it’s changed. The obvious options would be Alcacer or Turan but from local reports, it has emerged the more likely solution Jordi Alba on the left flank. This is a defensive minded way of fixing the Brazilian’s absence but probably the best one they have. Barcelona needs the win much more and will have to take some risks and some stage to win it, but it will take an almighty turnaround in the team dynamic, away form and just the general performance level to beat Real Madrid.
Prediction: Under 3.75 goals
Odds: 1.81 Pinnacle