- Venue: Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid
- Saturday: March 1st, 20:00
- Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz
Ahead of this latest El Clasico, both Barcelona and Real Madrid experienced difficult games in midweek Champions League action with Barca drawing at Napoli and Real suffering a 2-1 home defeat by Manchester City. The hosts now face the prospect of welcoming the current league leaders in the Spanish La Liga and with any prospective loss ensuring the visitors extend their gap to five points from second-placed Real. Host manager Zinedine Zidane will also be aware that Real have failed to beat Barcelona at the Bernabeu in League action since winning 3-1 back in October 2014.
Two successive defeats in competitive action will not have helped morale in the Real Madrid camp prior to El Clasico, as their Champions League loss followed a surprise 1-0 loss at Levante with the home goalkeeper emerging as a man of the match. Los Blancos have not enjoyed the best of months having been eliminated from the Copa del Rey when beaten 4-3 by Real Sociedad on home soil. However, Real did beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 at the beginning of February which ensured that they were unbeaten in nineteen competitive matches. Can Real return to similar form in time for this encounter?
For Barcelona, their form on the road this season remains a concern with four La Liga defeats suffered at Bilbao, Levante, Granada and more lately at Valencia. Barca were also beaten earlier this month at Athletic Bilbao in Copa del Rey action with just two away victories registered this year. However, the Catalan team have proved that they can rise to the occasion when winning at Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan during early December and they have not lost any of four Champions League fixtures on their travels this term. A 3-0 win at Real Madrid just twelve months previously is also a timely reminder of their ability.
Eden Hazard (fractured ankle) will be unavailable for Real Madrid alongside Marco Asensio (knee ligaments) while Mariano Diaz (leg) and James Rodriguez (hip) could return to the match-day squad.
Gerard Pique injured an ankle in the midweek draw at Napoli and is slightly doubtful for this match while Luis Suarez (knee) and Ousmane Dembele (thigh) are definitely sidelined for Barcelona. Jordi Alba and Sergio Roberto may also be unavailable with groin strains.
Earlier this season during December, the first La Liga fixture between these two teams this season finished in a goalless draw at the Camp Nou. Since that game, Barcelona have won just one league game on the road when narrowly beating Real Betis 3-2. An under-strength Barca team also won 2-1 at Ibiza in Copa del Rey action, but the Catalan team have not produced their best form in recent away games. As for Real Madrid, given their current indifferent form, avoiding defeat against their main rivals for the league title may be considered a bonus. Therefore, a good bet may be for a Draw priced at 27/10 with Bet365.
A second pick is for 2 or 3 goals to be scored offered at 21/20 by Bet365. Despite Barcelona scoring for fun in most home matches during recent months, that has not been the case on their travels with a 3-2 win at Real Betis this month being the only occasion since mid-October when Barca have netted more than two away goals. As for Real, a reliable defence during December and January has become more porous lately with only one clean sheet registered this month. Yet Real have failed to net in just one game this year when losing at Levante.
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