The title may not be on the line this time but there’s no such thing as an insignificant meeting between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Los Blancos head to Camp Nou aiming to build on a good recent run of results on the ground but they’ll do well to extend that record here.
Having just completed a domestic double, Barcelona have had the better season but it will be all the sweeter if they win the clasico again here, their last major obstacle to an undefeated league season. That wasn’t really a priority even a month ago but now it’s a big target for Ernesto Valverde’s men and it would be a fantastic achievement even if this Barca side isn’t quite as good as those of recent years.
Real Madrid would dearly love to be the side to end that unbeaten sequence and they will be hugely motivated here despite Champions League glory being their priority. They are a side that continues to stir debate as they again rode their luck to see off Bayern in the Champions League in midweek. However they are in the midst of a remarkable era of European success and having seen off PSG, Juventus and Bayern will fancy they can claim a third straight continental crown.
They are probably the most flexible side in Europe with an array of different options and ways of winning matches, but in a one-off game against a fresh Barcelona side, it’s hard to fancy them. Certainly if they give up as many chances in this match against Messi and Suarez as they did in the two legs against the Germans, it could be a very different outcome.
Leo Messi could yet again prove the decisive factor. Even by his standards, Messi has had a sensational season, single-handedly at times driving this team to two more trophies and he’s fresh from a hat-trick last weekend, which moved him onto 32 goals for the season in La Liga and 43 overall.
He’ll be up against a Real side that have just a 14% clean sheet ratio in 2018 in all competitions which is testament to defensive frailties and they lie 15 points behind Barcelona in La Liga. The Catalans meanwhile have just started to really fire in the final third, netting nine goals in their last two matches. One of those was the 5-0 Copa del Rey Final win over Sevilla, one of their most fluid attacking displays of the season. If they can find something like that level again here, the Catalan giants should be able to notch up another clasico league double and backing Barcelona to Win looks the smart bet in the Full-Time Result market.
For slightly longer odds, consider backing Barcelona & Over 2.5 Goals, which appeals given 12 of the last 13 league clasicos have produced over 2.5 goals.