Barcelona v Real Madrid: A 9/2 xG treble on Wednesday’s Clasico cracker

Infogol crunch the xG numbers and make their picks.

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi lies on the field beside Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema (TOP) during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 2, 2019. (Photo by CURTO DE LA TORRE / AFP) (Photo credit should read CURTO DE LA TORRE/AFP via Getty Images)

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Barcelona Expected Goals (xG)

Barcelona come into the first El Clasico of the season leading La Liga, but they aren’t in as dominant a position as they were last season, leading thanks to having a better goal difference than their arch rivals.

Ernesto Valverde’s side saw their four-match winning run in La Liga brought an end by Real Sociedad at the weekend, but a 2-2 draw at Anoeta was a very fortunate result for Barca, as they were comfortably second best according to expected goals (xG: RSO 2.95 – 1.55 BAR).

That has been the case in a lot of their matches this season, and it is why Barcelona sit down in 6th place in Infogol’s expected goals table – albeit with a game in hand.

Their underlying process has been poor this season, averaging just 1.85 xGF per game while allowing 1.28 xGA per game, and it is no surprise that their process is much worse than last season (18/19 – 2.17 xGF, 1.26 xGA per game).

Marc-André ter Stegen has been continuously keeping Barca in games, and at the other end, the 2019 Ballon d’Or winner does the rest. Lionel Messi is unstoppable on his day and has been for over a decade, and he is one of the few players who over-performs their expected goals year in and year out.

Barca will hit the net here, but the big question is if they can keep Real Madrid out, and their form against the league’s best (VAL, SEV, ATM, RSO) suggests they may struggle, allowing an average of 2.39 xGA per game against the leagues best attacking sides.

Karim Benzema Gerard Pique Barcelona Real Madrid

Real Madrid Expected Goals (xG)

After a turbulent season in 18/19, things look to have settled down a bit at Real Madrid, no doubt majorly thanks to Zinedine Zidane’s second coming.

Real needed a very late equaliser to get a point at Valencia at the weekend, with a draw a fair result according to expected goals (xG: VAL 2.27 – 2.11 RMA), as Madrid continue to look a serious force in attack.

So far this season, Madrid boast the best attacking process in the league by a long way, averaging a huge 2.40 xGF per game – nearly 0.60 xGF more per game than Barca – so Zidane has got his gifted attacking players clicking.

It is no surprise then that Madrid have generated the most non-penalty big chances this season (37), which is a good sign that their process, performances and results are highly sustainable.

The signing of Eden Hazard looks to have made a positive impact, but the overall numbers he is posting aren’t that impressive, generating an average of 0.29 xGI/90, he misses this game through injury though.

Having said that, ‘Wales, Golf, Madrid’ man, Gareth Bale is, comfortably out-performing the €100 million man, averaging a steady 0.48 xGI/90, and it will be interesting to see if Zidane calls on him for this game in Hazard’s absence.

In Karim Benzema Real Madrid have a striker in excellent form, and he is the joint top scorer in La Liga with 12 goals, but he is the league leader in xG (11.66), showing that he keeps getting himself on the end of good scoring chances.

Conclusion

Infogol hasn’t at all been impressed by Barca so far in 19/20, and the model thinks they are way too short to get the three points here.

The hosts can be backed at 4/6, but Infogol calculates that they be priced at around 7/5, so backing Real Madrid or Draw in the double chance market is the main play.

As mentioned already, Karim Benzema is hot at the moment, and leads the league in xG through 16 games, and he looks a very interesting runner in the anytime scorer market at 6/4.

A third bet that I like the look of is for Real Madrid to score in the first half, and that can be backed at 5/4. Given how strong Madrid’s attacking process is, I can see them notching a few here.

Recommended Bet

A £/€1 treble on these three selections returns £/€5.44 including stake on pp.com. Odds correct at time of posting, subject to change.

Wednesday 19:00 – Barca 4/6, Draw 3/1, Real Madrid 10/3