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    El Clasico a must-win for Real Madrid

    2017-12-22 11:06

    Thabang Kgeledi

    Cape Town - It's always an interesting battle when Real Madrid and Barcelona meet.

    It's Messi versus Ronaldo, Catalonia versus the rest of Spain, and the most exciting battle of all being Real Madrid supporters v Barcelona supporters on Twitter. 

    Lo Blancos are at home against the Catalans Saturday night in the El Gran Clasico.

    This is a must-win game for Madrid, while the game will give Barcelona the chance to tombstone Real Madrid's chances of retaining their league title, and also go level with them on the number of wins in all competitions this calendar year.

    Which team will give their supports a Merry Christmas gift?

    Real Madrid

    2017 was a good year for Real Madrid. They won five trophies, their best player won the Ballon D'or and Gareth Bale managed to play five games. However, their start to the 2017/18 La Liga season has not been the best.

    Real Madrid dropped points against teams who have 0.0024% of their talent and 0.00014% of their budget.

    Ronaldo's dip in form didn't help their cause either, as he managed to score only two goals in his first 10 La Liga appearances.

    The good news for Real Madrid fans is Ronaldo has returned to his selfish goalscoring self, but the bad news is he may miss Saturday's game after he was absent from training on Wednesday because of a calf problem.

    Here is more exciting news, Gareth Bale is back! And he might play an actual soccer match, but the bad news is we don't know for how long, he may injure himself taking a bath tomorrow morning.

    Barcelona

    The Catalan giants are undefeated, No 1 in the league, have 35+ goal differential, are six points above second placed Atletico Madrid and are 11 points clear of Real Madrid ... and have Lionel Messi.

    Messi has been his usual annoyingly unbelievable self and has directly contributed to 19 goals so far this season (14 goals, five assists). 

    Among all his otherworldly talents, Messi's ability to make players like Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu look like actual real-life Barcelona players, is the most incredible. Unfortunately, both players are reportedly out for Saturday’s match which I don't know whether is a good or bad thing.

    Records

    Real Madrid last five games in La Liga

    WDWDW (60 win percentage)

    Barcelona last five games in La Liga

    WWDDW (60 win percentage)

    Predictions

    BET.co.za has Real Madrid favourites to win at 1.10, draw 2.85, and a Barcelona win at 2.00.

    You don't need to be a neurosurgeon to figure out Real Madrid need this win more than Barcelona do. Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde will be aware of that. The last time these two teams met at the Bernabéu his team got smashed 2-0 in the Spanish Super Cup.

    Barcelona have a stingy defence that have only conceded seven goals in the league. They don't allow many goals from dead-ball situations either making it very tough to break them down.

    Real Madrid have no choice but to come out guns blazing, they cannot afford to relax. Ronaldo's recovery from his downturn in form has seen him score eight goals in his last seven matches across all competitions and his goals will be needed.

    A draw would be sufficient for Barcelona, but that's a mentality that isn't in their DNA even with a pragmatic (aka boring) coach like Valverde. This will be a fairly open game and the duo of Luis Suarez and Messi are considerably more lethal than Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

    My money would be on Barcelona pulling an upset.

    BET on the big game at BET.co.za: Real Madrid v Barcelona

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