La Liga Odds: Barca vs. Blancos In High-Stakes Clasico

Ronaldo celebrates a goal
Photo credit: Jan Solo [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Real Madrid (+115) vs. Barcelona (+240), Draw (+320)

Get ready for the most anticipated game in La Liga! Real Madrid (23-6-2, 75 points) hosts Barcelona (22-6-4, 72) for El Clasico this Sunday (April 23rd) for what could also be a title-deciding game.

Real Madrid are currently leading the Spanish league, but they’re only three points above second-place Barcelona (though they’ve played one less game). A victory for Barca could win the season for them, and a loss could end their title hopes.

The last time the two Spanish giants clashed, Sergio Ramos scored a last-minute goal and allowed Real Madrid to slip away with a draw. Real Madrid were midway through an unbeaten streak at the time, and Barca came painfully close to ending the party.

They have their work cut out for them this time, though. Los Blancos are currently unbeaten in their last 12 games and recently trounced Bayern Munich in the Champions League, first 2-1 then 4-2. They’re currently the favorites to win both the Champions League and La Liga.

Contrast that to Barcelona, who have only won one of their last four games and were recently shut out by Juventus in the Champions League, 3-0 and 0-0. However, their four La Liga losses have been to teams in the bottom-half of the league: Alaves, Celta Vigo, Malaga, and Deportivo la Coruna. Against the top-flight Spanish sides, Barca actually have a great track record this season.

Their biggest concern will be the absence of Neymar. The 25-year-old Brazilian hasn’t scored too many goals this season, but he’s been arguably their most important player this season. Being red carded in the loss to Malaga means he will have to sit this one out.

Without his trident (Messi, Suarez, Neymar), manager Luis Enrique may opt for a formation change and forgo a front three. Instead, he may play Luis Suarez as the sole striker with Lionel Messi behind him. The Barca squad is pretty low on attacking options for Sunday, both Arda Turan and Rafinha are unlikely to be fit for the game.

I have no doubt that Barcelona will recover from their current slump, but with Real Madrid in the form they’re in, I can’t pick them losing at the Bernabeu.

Pick: Real Madrid (+115)