Finally, we’ve reached the culmination of what feels like an endless string of editions of El Clasico. Of course, you won’t find anyone complaining about that- except perhaps the one-sided nature of the contests, in which Real Madrid have been dominated by Barcelona. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for this rivalry clash
Real Madrid vs. Barcelona United Odds
At home, Barcelona are favored with +135 odds compared to +205 for Madrid and +250 for the draw. For a goalscoring line of 2.5, the over is favored at -120 while the under is -105.
Real Madrid vs. Barcelona Prediction & Pick
I’ll never get tired of El Clasico, nor will almost any football fan- but man have these teams clashed a lot this year. There have been two matchups in just about the past month, as well as one back in January, all in separate competitions, all won by Barcelona.
In this competition, the Copa del Rey, Barca won the first semifinal leg 1-0 at the Bernabeu. It is worth noting that, like the UCL, away goals as a tiebreaker is dead here too, so if Madrid are able to win by exactly a goal, we’ll get 30 minutes more of Spain’s two biggest clubs duking it out. It’s not fair to declare this a de facto final but…the winner will face a relative cinderella in Osasuna, so a trophy could very well end up having been at stake, in retrospect.
Feeling out the motivation for each team is going to be quite the adventure here; the race to top La Liga is effectively over, in a good way for Barça, less so for Real. The Catalan side is also out of European competition, after Man United hilariously dumped them out of the Europa League. Madrid, however, still has the Champions League to play for, as they always do.
The Copa del Rey has been an elusive prize for los blancos- some truly elite teams have come and gone since they last lifted the trophy in 2014, and it would be a great cherry on top of the Ancelotti era. But it’s hard to say that they’ll be more motivated when they have bigger European fish to fry, while this is really Barça’s last meaningful competition of the year.
In a matchup that is almost never straightforward, I’m picking a result that is; Barcelona on the moneyline. They’ve absolutely owned this head to head this year, and the Copa del Rey is a consistent basket of nightmares for the World’s biggest club. I’m also going to take the under; Barça are one of the best defensive sides in the World, and Madrid have shown no ability to break down their biggest rivals this year
Picks: Barcelona (+135), u2.5 goals (-105)
With two sides that play at a high level, but with very different styles, winning at each level of the pitch will be a unique challenge for both clubs- let’s take a look at how some positional matchups might play out.
The Midfield Battle
Barcelona are likely to be without perhaps their best midfielder, Dutch star Frenkie de Jong, but as always, they have plenty of midfield talent regardless.
The veteran Sergio Busquets, even at age 34, continues to be one of the side’s best players, as his around surgical passing ability has allowed him to age quite gracefully. He’s surrounded by youth- Pedri and Gavi, the pair of Spanish wonderkids, have also factored in for a midfield that has absolutely dominated possession this season, with an average figure well north of 60% in league play.
As far as some veteran depth, Franck Kessié or Sergi Roberto could factor in, as both have received some playing time of late, but I’d expect the trio to be that unique blend of experience and youth that is the Busquets-Gavi-Pedri midfield.
Madrid’s midfield does not get as much press compared to Barça’s, nor as much as they probably deserve. This side can also rotate between exciting young options, and established stars. As far as the latter, you know the names- Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, both of whom have been among the best in the business for the better part of a decade and well into their 30s, show no sign of slowing down.
When it comes to the youngsters, however, the group might be even more exciting. Like Barça, they have two young countrymen they can pair together, although they don’t share Spain as a homeland. Instead, it’s the French prodigies Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni, undoubtedly the deserving heirs to a rich midfield tradition in Madrid.
Last time out, Barça dominated midfield play after Madrid quietly held steady in terms of shot and chance creation and possession alike throughout the previous couple of losses. With de Jong likely out, we’ll have to see if they’re able to do the same.
Barcelona Attack vs. Real Madrid Defense
When it comes to the Barça attack, the discussion sort of starts and ends with Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern legend has settled in nicely in his move to one of his previous victims, as he is the team’s goalscoring leader with several times the tally of the next contender, and is even the top assister on the squad in La Liga.
Of course he’s not literally alone up there; he could be flanked by any number of options, from Raphina to Ansu Fati, or perhaps Ferran Torres. Ousmane Dembélé always has a good chance to see the pitch in a big match, but his injury situation is not looking ideal for Wednesday’s match.
They’ll have to score on a solid Madrid defense, highlighted by Éder Militão. The Brazilian centre-back is having probably his best season for the club, and anchors a defense that can sometimes have some moving parts around him.
Another mainstay is of course Thibaut Courtois in the net; the Belgian legend hasn’t been up to his own best level this season, but he is of course still one of the best in the business and is more than capable of incredible performances.