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Real Madrid vs Barcelona El Clásico: report, goals, score

Real Madrid - Girona: Copa del Rey 2019, quarter final

GRAF1181. MADRID, 23/12/2017.- El delantero argentino del FC Barcelona, Leo Messi (c), celebra con sus compañeros el gol que marcó durante el partido correspondiente a la jornada 17 de Liga en Primera División que el Real Madrid y el
Rodrigo JiménezEFE

Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona: match report

Barcelona opened a commanding 14-point lead over bitter rivals Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as goals from Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal handed the visitors a 3-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Victory extends Barca's unbeaten run to 25 games in all competitions as they moved nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid and exacted revenge for a 5-1 thrashing on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup at the hands of Real in August.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona: El Clásico, as it happened

Real Madrid v Barcelona live stream: El Clásico, preview and team news

Both Real Madrid and Barcelona will be looking for some extra Christmas cheer before they start their holidays and there’s no better way of doing that than by getting one over your archenemies in El Clásico. There was positive news for both Zinedine Zidane and Ernesto Valverde on the eve of the game – both coaches were relieved to hear that key players who have missed training this week have been given a clean bill of health. Cristiano has been working inside the gym since taking a knock in last week’s Club World Cup final while Jordi Alba has been mysteriously absent from Barcelona’s sessions at the Ciutat Esportiva – both were back with their respective squads on Friday.

This, the 176th league meeting between the two clubs in the league and the 88th to be contested in the capital is significant for the number of points which separate the two in the standings. Valverde’s team occupy pole position on 42 points while Madrid are fourth on 31.

Parallels will be drawn with the 2008/9 campaign when Barça held a 12-point advantage over Madrid in Week 16 – under Juande Ramos that lead was trimmed to just four points by the time Guardiola’s side were guests in Chamartín in Week 34. And also the 2015/16 campaign, when Madrid trailed their eternal rivals by 12 points in Week 26 – again, Madrid chipped away at Barça’s lead and after the leaders dropped points in four games in a row against Villarreal, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad and Valencia, their advantage has been reduced to just one point by Week 33. Both won the remaining five games to see the Blaugranas retain the title by just one point. The distance is significant because no team has ever whittled down a 12-point deficit to catch up with the leaders in the history of LaLiga.

Nevertheless Zidane was his usual calm, cheery self in Friday’s pre-match press briefing. He warned that the Catalans are top of the table for a reason but pointed out that for him, it’s only another three points in play and added that he is players are ready to take on Barça man for man.

Visiting coach Valverde has spent the past week meticulously scrutinizing videos of his team’s recent clashes with Madrid – especially August’s Spanish Supercup games. He feels he knows how his team can keep Madrid shackled and has been instructing his players where their weak points lie. Like his opposite number, El Txingurri played down the importance of a result either way and assured that even a Barça win, which would see his team enter the New Year 14 points ahead of Madrid, would not be decisive in the title race.

Real Madrid team news

Zidane has the luxury of a fully fit squad to select his starting XI. That includes Gareth Bale whose calf problems are in the past although we’ll see if he starts or not. Cristiano is also now over his fitness concerns – he took a kick to the calf in last weekend’s Club World Cup final and has been training at a more leisurely pace while his bruised muscle heals. Zidane has staunchly defended his 4-3-3 set-up with Bale up front alongside Cristiano and Benzema but the Welshman could well start on the bench in favour of Isco playing just behind the front two. Otherwise, Zizou will, with all likelihood field his standard XI with Varane and Ramos as the central defensive pair, Carvajal and Marcelo as wing-backs, Casemiro playing just in front of the back four with Modric and Kroos playing a supporting role for Isco, Benzema and Cristiano. Supersub Bale may have to wait his turn...

Man to watch: Isco. All eyes will be on Cristiano and Messi but sometimes, that gives other players the chance to go undetected and steal the limelight. Isco has all of the qualities needed to unlock Barça’s defence – he’s quick and effective in tight spaces and room will certainly be at a premium when Valverde’s men apply their pressing game whenever they lose the ball.

Barcelona team news

Barcelona are almost at full strength and were boosted by the news that Gerard Deulofeu has shaken off a knee sprain and was given the medical all-clear on Friday. Ousmane Dembélé was in a race to be declared fit but in the end, doctors didn’t want to risk him and want make sure his hamstring is fully healed. Also excluded from the coach’s 18-man list is Arda Turan and Rafinha, who was given the all-clear on Monday but isn’t match-fit. Likewise, Paco Alcácer who is recovering from an injury to his left thigh muscle and is out until after Christmas.

Man to watch: Messi. Out of all of Barcelona’s current crop of players, perhaps no one loves these visits to the Bernabéu more than Leo Messi. It’s a fixture which he has always lived up to, having found the net 14 times at Madrid’s stadium – more than he's done at any other Spanish ground…

Real Madrid vs Barcelona: El Clásico Predictions and betting odds

It's generally assumed there are no favourites in El Clásico and that’s pretty much what the betting houses are thinking with the odds on offer for this encounter. Real Madrid’s home advantage gives them the slimmest of odds as favourites while Barça are 2/1 to win as they have in their two most recent visits. For various reasons, 5-0 is a symbolic result in these meetings – a Madrid Manita is being offered at 66/1 while if the Blaugranas fire five past their guests without return, bookies are offering 125/1. Casemiro is at 18/1 to open the scoring while Iniesta is 25/1 to hit the opener.

Bet on Real Madrid v Barcelona in El Clásico now


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