Big Game Focus: Barcelona v Real Madrid

The biggest game of the weekend brings us to Spain, where Barcelona host arch rivals Real Madrid in the first El Clasico of the season. Here is our guide to one of the most exciting fixtures of the season.

The first El Clasico of 2018/19 takes place at Camp Nou this Sunday as Barcelona and Real Madrid seek to take advantage of the other’s inconsistent start to the season.

These sides had already met twice by this stage a year ago, as Real Madrid comfortably saw off their rivals in the Spanish Super Cup. However, Barcelona eventually claimed the bragging rights domestically with success in La Liga and Copa del Rey, with a 3-0 win at the Bernabeu along the way.

This is the first competitive meeting between these sides since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real, and injuries have also robbed the fans of the chance to witness other big names in this clash. The visitors will be without defensive duo Marcelo and Dani Carvajal, while Lionel Messi’s absence marks this match as the first not to feature either himself or Ronaldo since 2007.

Real boss Julen Lopetegui finds himself under considerable pressure after a string of poor results for Los Blancos, but Barcelona have only recently hit form themselves. Which team will carry the day here?

Betting tips

Barcelona are top of La Liga at the start of the weekend following a convincing 4-2 win over Sevilla last Saturday. They have not lost a home league game since September 2016 and have won 30 of their past 35 league matches at the Nou Camp. Real have lost three of their past five games in all competitions and are without a win in La Liga for over a month. Back a Barcelona win at big odds of 1.95 here.

Eight of the last ten league matches between this pair have seen Barcelona open the scoring. They have also scored first in eight of their last ten home league games. Click here to bet on Barcelona to Score First at 1.65.

Despite their indifferent form this season, Barcelona have nonetheless managed to score 18 goals in five league matches at the Nou Camp. Real Madrid have only kept one clean sheet in their last 15 away games in La Liga. Odds of 1.65 are available for Barcelona Over 1.5 Goals.

There have been seven cards or fewer shown in seven of the past ten meetings between these sides. Find odds of 1.50 on Under 7.5 Bookings here.

Team news

Ernesto Valverde will not be able to call upon Messi or Samuel Umtiti for the match, while Thomas Vermaelen has also been ruled out. Clement Lenglet is expected to continue in defence and Ousmane Dembele may come in on the right wing.

Real’s hopes were dented when Marcelo left the pitch early on Tuesday night after an injury to his ankle. He is likely to join Carvajal in the treatment room, which opens the door for Nacho to deputise at left back. Lopetegui must choose between Alvaro Odriozola and Lucas Vazquez at right back.

Possible line ups

Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Nelson Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur, Dembele, Suarez, Coutinho

Real Madrid: Courtois, Vazquez, Ramos, Varane, Nacho, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Isco, Bale, Benzema