27th of October 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
The 238th edition of the biggest derby in Spanish football will take place on Sunday when Barcelona host rivals Real Madrid at Camp Nou. Last season the Blancos managed to grab a 2-2 draw in Catalonia, after having lost the reverse fixture 3-0 at Santiago Bernabeu. However, Real Madrid did win the Spanish Super Cup last season after a double victory over rivals Barcelona, 3-1 away and 2-0 at home. The last six direct matches show a perfectly balanced record, with two wins apiece and two draws. Overall, Real Madrid still have the upper hand in the head-to-head record with 95 victories compared to Barcelona's 92.
Barcelona had a string of three matches without victory at the end of Semptember but they did well to recover from that with three victories in the following four matches. The good streak started with a fine 4-2 victory at Tottenham in the Champions League, then the Blaugrana got held to a draw by Valencia in LaLiga, but bounced back with a 4-2 victory over Sevilla last weekend. This week Barca continued their good form with a 2-0 victory over Inter Milan in the Champions League. They do have a big injury problem ahead of the derby, though, as superstar Lionel Messi is out of contention after having fractured his arm in the match against Sevilla. Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen are injured as well, so Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet are the only available senior central defenders in the squad.
Real Madrid are going through very difficult times under new boss Julen Lopetegui, they have lost four of their last six matches in all competitions and were on a five-game winless streak before this week's narrow 2-1 victory over Plzen in the Champions League. Last week the Blancos got stunned at home by Levante, Real lost that match 2-1 after having conceded twice in the first 13 minutes of the match. That was their second consecutive defeat in LaLiga and third in the last four matches. Marcelo picked up a knock against Plzen but he should be ready to play on Sunday, but Dani Carvajal remains sidelined.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen - Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba - Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur - Rafinha, Suarez, Coutinho
Real Madrid: Courtois - Nacho, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo - Modric, Casemiro, Kroos - Bale, Benzema, Isco
My prediction: Barcelona to win 3-1, the Blaugrana can pull it off even without Messi because Real Madrid are not strong enough at the moment.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Barcelona win - 1.95
Draw - 3.80
Real Madrid win - 3.60
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