It's always a treat when Real Madrid and Barcelona meet for battle on the pitch. Let's examine the soccer odds and then come up with our favorite picks for Saturday's La Liga extravaganza.
We know the soccer odds are going to be tight whenever these two Spanish giants square off. So, what are the lines looking like at this time?
It's Real Madrid that's favored at a price of +135 or so, though some books have +140 for the taking if you're trying to get the best possible value. That means we can back Barcelona at a very intriguing underdog price of approximately +200, which is going to be too hard to pass up for a lot of casual bettors. A draw, meanwhile, is quoted in the +250 to +275 range.
At this point, we're running out of superlatives when it comes to describing how good Real Madrid has been lately.
If you want to find the last time Los Blancos have picked up a defeat, you'd have to go all the way back to the second week in September. Since a loss to Atletico Madrid, Real has won eight consecutive matches across all competitions.
As you'd expect, that's put Los Galacticos in a terrific position in the Champions League, so they've still got some catching up to do in La Liga. They're tops in their group after a cool dismantling of Liverpool, but domestically they're four points back of first-place Barcelona and one pack of second-place Sevilla. We're not about to count out Real Madrid's chances of storming up the table, however.
Before we go any further, we need to reflect on Cristiano Ronaldo and company's win over the Reds. They went into Anfield and dominated en route to a 3-0 victory. Ronaldo scored once and Karim Benzema netted a brace in the victory.
Ronaldo continues to find the back of the net with regularity, and we wouldn't put it past him to make the difference this weekend. He's had plenty of success agains Barcelona in the past, and it seems he always relishes the chance to prove his worth against Messi.
Since a 3-2 loss to PSG in the Champions League, the Catalans have recovered to win three straight matches. They beat Rayo Vallecano and Eibar in the league and then topped Ajax 3-1 in Europe.
Barcelona's amazing record at the Nou Camp continued during the week, as Messi and Neymar both got on the scoresheet to guide the home team to the three points. An own goal from Ajax sealed the deal.
With the Catalans in first place in their Champions League group and also in the top spot in La Liga, you can see why it's going to be attractive for a lot of people to back Barcelona at a plus price in the soccer odds. Not too often will you get a chance to back Messi and company at such a number.
So far in league play, Messi (eight) and Neymar (seven) have combined for 15 goals already, and they continue to only get better and better the more they play together.
That's a scary thought for the rest of the league. Even scarier? Luis Suarez is eligible to make his competitive debut for Barcelona, and we cannot wait to see if he's immediately thrust into the starting XI. We'd actually be surprised if he wasn't on the pitch come Saturday, which would give Barcelona the scariest attacking trio out there. Only time will tell.
La Liga Pick
Why does it seem like every edition of El Clasico is better than the last?
We expect another outstanding match, full of passion, intensity and fantastic soccer, here on Saturday. But when focusing on what road to take when placing our soccer picks, where's the better value?
After much deliberation, we've ultimately decided to go with recent form and bank on Los Blancos to continue their incredible form. They haven't lost a match in close to six weeks, so we're not about to go against that kind of performance level. With Ronaldo leading the way, we'll be picking Real Madrid to escape with what would be a splendid (albeit close) victory.
Free Soccer Pick: Real Madrid 2 Barcelona 1 at Bet365