Will Sunday’s El Clasico Define La Liga’s 2014 Champions?

La Liga UK Sports BettingThis Sunday sees the biggest game in world football when the ‘big two’ in Spain’s La Liga clash for the second time this season. All eyes will be on the Bernabeu this Sunday when leaders Real Madrid take on Barcelona in a game of huge importance at the top of the league table.

This will be the second league clash between the teams this season after Barcelona won the first 2-1 at the Nou Camp thanks to goals from Neymar and Alexis Sanchez, with Real Madrid youngster Jese scoring a late consolation for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

The game between Spanish football’s two super-teams has become known worldwide as 

It is the most watched club football match in the world, with hundreds of millions regularly tuning in to watch clashes between the pair.

El Clásico history

Excluding friendly games, Barcelona and Real Madrid have met 225 times in total which includes 167 matches in La Liga, 32 in the Copa del Rey, 6 in the Copa de la Liga, 12 in the Supercopa de Espana and 8 in the UEFA Champions League.

Real have the slight historic edge, winning 90 of these games, to Barcelona’s 87 with 48 draws. Real have also scored slightly more goals in the fixture, 379 in total, compared to 363 for Barcelona.

At the Bernabeu, Real historically have been the dominant force. They have notched up 62 wins to Barcelona’s 24 wins, with 25 matches ending in a draw.

If Lionel Messi can score in Sunday’s game between the teams the 26-year-old Argentinean will become the All Time Top Scorer in the fixture. Messi currently has notched 18 goals in 26 clashes between the two teams, the same number as the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano managed.

Real Madrid’s star man, Cristiano Ronaldo, has scored 12 goals in El Clásico clashes, albeit from fewer games (20).

Current form

At present, Real head into Sunday’s clash on top of La Liga, three points ahead of city rivals Atletico Madrid and four ahead of Barcelona, who lie in third place with all three teams having played 28 or their 38 league games.

In terms of recent form, Real Madrid certainly hold the advantage. They have not lost in La Liga since their 2-1 defeat at the Nou Camp at the end of October, winning 15 and drawing 3 of their 18 matches since. Carlo Ancelotti’s men have won eight of their last ten games, scoring 30 goals in the process, conceding just six.

It’s been a much tougher time for Barcelona of late though. After a magnificent start to the season when they won 14 of their first 15 games, drawing the other, they suffered their first defeat at Athletic Bilbao in December, losing 1-0.

Since then, though Barcelona’s form has been erratic. They have won 8 of their last 13 league games, but have drawn away at Levante and Atletico Madrid, as well as losing recently to Valencia, Real Sociedad and most surprisingly Real Valladolid.

Barcelona have lost three of their last seven La Liga games.

Both teams recorded wins at the weekend, Real a narrow 1-0 success away at Malaga, while Barcelona hammered Osasuna 7-0 at the Nou Camp, with Lionel Messi scoring a hat-trick and in the process, becoming Barcelona’s highest ever goalscorer.

Real Madrid team news

Having missed the game with Malaga through suspension, Real Madrid can welcome back Sergio Ramos for El Clásico and his return to the heart of defence will certainly be a welcome one. Isco is expected to drop out of the side after a less than impressive performance at Malaga at the weekend, with Di Maria likely to replace the midfielder.

With Alvaro Arbeloa and Sami Khedira still injured, there was concern Karim Benzema could miss the game. The Frenchman picked up a knock last weekend and was substituted early in the game, but reports suggest the powerful striker should be fit for Sunday night’s clash.

Probable Team: Lopez, Carvajal, Marcelo, Pepe, Ramos, Alonso, Modric, Di Maria, Benzema, Bale, Ronald

Barcelona team news

After a thumping 7-0 win over Osasuna to set them up nicely for El Clásico, Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino revealed that following the game he had already pretty much made up his mind which players would feature against Real Madrid next weekend.

Both Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol, who were omitted from the team that faced Osasuna as a precaution, should return for the game, with Bartra and Mascherano likely to make way.

Barcelona will be pinning their hopes on a resurgent Lionel Messi who bagged a hat-trick against Osasuna to rack up 371 goals for Barcelona, two more than previous record holder Pablo Alcantara. That treble brought Messi’s haul this season to 31 goals.

Brazilian ace Neymar, who was benched for Saturday’s easy win and may just get the nod ahead of Pedro in attack. Another big call is who out of Fabregas or Iniesta will start, with our feeling the ex-Arsenal man may just receive a recall, despite Iniesta scoring against Osasuna.

Probable Team: Valdes, Dani Alves, Alba, Pique, Puyol, Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas, Messi, Sanchez, Neymar

El Clásico top tips and bets

Outright Winner: Barcelona have a decent history at the Bernabeu of late, but there’s no denying that Real Madrid are certainly the form team and Barcelona’s recent form is very patchy. As such, the 2.4 available form Bet365 on a Real Madrid win looks a solid choice here.

Another good bet is the Result/Both Teams to Score bet. El Clásico is usually a game where both teams find the scoresheet. Every league clash since 2011 has seen both teams find the net. You can get 4.0 on a Real Madrid victory and both teams scoring with Bet365 and this looks a great value bet to me.

If you want a correct score option, then a 2-1 victory for Real Madrid is available at 9.0, but a more enticing bet could be for Real to really push home their dominance and emerge with a 3-1 victory. That will get you a much bigger price of 17.00 and offer you a decent return on your initial stake.

If Real can win on Sunday then that may deal a fatal blow to Barcelona’s title hopes, while a win for the Catalans would throw La Liga wide open again with both teams and Atletico Madrid, hoping they can lift the title.

Kick off if you want to tune in is 8pm GMT on Sunday evening. Not yet a user on Bet365? Create an account and you’ll qualify for a Bet365 Sports welcome bonus – an offer that will net you $100 with no deposit required.

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