This coming weekend, the biggest fixture in the club football calender – Barcelona v Real Madrid, known in Spain as El Clasico. An unpredictable game where a moment of genius can be decisive, but whether this is from the little Argentine magician or the Portuguese man of war, it’s hard to tell.
What we do know is it will be a very tight game; a Madrid win seems unlikely, going off their early form under new manager, Carlo Ancelotti, who is trying to integrate three new signings into the team, and a 5-0 Barca win (like in November 2010) is definitely not on the cards this Saturday. The first half will no doubt be a highly intense game of pressurised football with Barca looking to dominate possession and try to hunt it back very quickly, high up the pitch, giving the Madrid players no time on the ball.
Real have not been scoring very freely this term and Barca are not the monstrous force they were three seasons ago; Los Blancos (Madrid) stumbled to a 2-0 win over Malaga at the Bernabeu last weekend with 2 goals coming in the second half, whereas Barcelona were held to a 0-0 draw at Osasuna, a game where Lionel Messi only appeared as a 2nd half substitute.
Messi has often found the net when it really matters in these fixtures, the Champions League semi-final 2nd leg winner a couple of seasons ago being the most memorable. Although it’s only October, the significance of winning this match is huge because of the consistent victories these clubs pick up every week against the rest of the League – another reason why the first 45 minutes of this encounter will be full of nervous tension, high energy, and chess-like probing, patient possession from Barcelona.
Of the last six La Liga meetings between the two teams, only one of the games has ended with more goals scored in the first half than in the second half. Three of the matches have finished with the opposite being the case – 2nd half as highest scoring half, and two games have seen the goals evenly spread over both periods.
Considering the current form of both teams, and a gut feeling that the game will be more open in the second half (if early goals fly in in the first half, then the game could well tighten up in the second period, and the opposite may be true but hey, that’s gambling for you) For my football betting tip I recommend betting on the 2nd Half being the highest scoring half – 2.1 Euro odds or 11/10.