Despite their early-season struggles, Madrid have climbed back up the La Liga table to third and ground their way to the Copa del Rey semi-finals. Julen Lopetegui was fired after their last meeting with their old rivals, a 5-1 thrashing at the Nou Camp, and Santiago Solari should avoid the same fate – but with three games against Barca in the next month, who knows?
They’ve strung together five straight wins, which wouldn’t sound like much for Madrid in previous years, but this season’s been dodgier than Sergio Ramos’ rapping, so the fact they’ve found some form is encouraging.
Barca, meanwhile, are top of the league and scored six in their last cup game to overcome a two-goal deficit in the quarter-final tie with Sevilla. Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele are both in doubt for this, but the Catalans haven’t been kept blank at home since March last year, while Los Blancos have hit 14 goals in their last four games.
There should be goals in this.
The 31-year-old has led Madrid’s recent goal spree, with six strikes in his last four games.
Who needs Ronaldo?
It’s a great return to form for a player who has had plenty of ups and downs in his Bernabeu career, but who averages just under one goal in every three El Clásico appearances, so the 9/5 available on him looks a reasonable shout given his white-hot streak and regular return against their old enemy.
While Liverpool’s least favourite Spanish centre-half Sergio Ramos might be the obvious choice for a card in this tinderbox fixture, it’s his right-sided defensive pal who stands out as a punt in the bookings market.
This season, in 23 appearances, he’s collected seven bookings, that’s a faster rate than Ramos is gathering them at, and in his last game against Barca in December 2017 he was sent off for saving a shot on the line. He’s also been booked six times in his ten other games matches versus the Blaugrana.
If this game gets feisty, Carvajal will be a prime candidate to lose his head faster than Piers Morgan when he logs on.
- Both Teams to Score: Yes – 1/2
- Any Time Goalscorer: Karim Benzema – 9/5
- To be Booked: Dani Carvajal – 4/6
*All odds correct at time of posting