El Clasico Tips: Real Madrid value to avoid defeat against Barcelona

Dan Fitch can't see why Barcelona are such big favourites against Real Madrid, who have home advantage in El Clasico and are building their own lengthy unbeaten spell.

Madrid competing on two fronts

It's been a difficult season for Real Madrid at times, but it has the potential to end a memorable one.

Going into this fixture, Real Madrid are third in La Liga and are now only three points behind the leaders Atletico. They defeated Eibar 2-0 at home last weekend, taking advantage of Atletico's 1-0 defeat at Sevilla.

As well as being in the race to retain their La Liga title, Real Madrid have genuine Champions League aspirations. They beat Liverpool 3-1 in the home leg of their quarter-final on Tuesday and it seems likely that should they progress to the semi-finals, they will have a winnable semi against Chelsea.

Real looked very sharp against Liverpool and defended well, despite not having Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane available. Zinedine Zidane could have the option of playing Dani Carvajal in El Clasico, with the right-back having returned to training, while Eden Hazard is also in contention.

Can Barca extend unbeaten record against top opposition?

Barcelona left it very late on Monday night, before scoring a vital goal that really puts the pressure on Atletico Madrid.

Ronald Koeman's team beat Real Valladolid 1-0 at home, thanks to a goal from Ousmane Dembele in the last minute of stoppage time. That leaves second placed Barcelona just one point behind Atletico and two points ahead of Real Madrid.

Barca have the advantage of having had a free week between La Liga fixtures, but while they might be slightly fresher, the fact that they are no longer in the Champions League raises its own questions. Though unbeaten in 19 La Liga games (W16 D3), Barcelona have got played either Real or Atletico during that run and their 4-1 home defeat to PSG in the Champions League, showed that vulnerabilities against top opposition remain, despite the improvements made during Koeman's reign.

Koeman's decision to switch to a 3-4-2-1 formation with Frenkie de Jong amongst the centre-backs, has proved to be a success. Sergi Roberto and and Gerard Pique are back in contention, but may have to settle for a place on the bench. Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati remain out.

Value with Real Madrid

Barcelona are the 2.38 favourites, with Real Madrid at 3.0 and the draw at 4.00.

It's hard to see why Barca are favoured and especially to this extent. They have only had one day more of extra rest than Real Madrid, who won the reverse fixture 3-1. Real are now unbeaten in twelve matches across all competitions (W10 D2) and their price to win is big enough that you can back them cautiously, with 2.2 available in the Draw No Bet market and 1.71 for them to simply avoid defeat Double Chance.

Veterans not past their best

Lionel Messi is not scoring at the incredible rate that he once did, but by normal standards, he is still performing very well. The Argentine has 29 goals in 38 matches this season, with five of them coming in his last four games. It's only in games like this that you can back Messi at a decent price and he's 2.2 to add to his tally.

Another 33-year old who continues to perform at a very high level is Real Madrid's Karim Benzema. He's scored 24 goals in 34 appearances, with seven coming from his last six games. At 2.4 to add to his tally, Benzema is another player to consider backing.

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