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|Subject: Barcelona v Real Madrid – El Clasico Odds 7th October 2012, 15:24|| |
As the first La Liga meeting between Barcelona and Real Madrid looms large there is the distinct possibility that the biggest club game in world football could be proof of a seismic shift in the tactical approach at the very top of the game, and with an estimated worldwide viewing total of up to 800 million people this is a revolution that will be televised regardless of where on the globe you find yourself on Sunday night.That’s because, by hook or by crook (although that should possibly read ‘crock’) Barcelona could quite feasibly line out with only one recognised defender in their ranks from the first whistle following the nasty dislocated elbow suffered by club captain Carles Puyol in the Catalans 2-0 Champions League win over Benfica on Tuesday night. The injury put the 34-year-old centre-half and club icon out for another eight weeks after he had just returned from a hamstring injury and Puyol joins his regular partner Gerard Pique on the sidelines for the visit of the reigning league champions to leave Barca coach Tito Vilanova with a major selection dilemma for his first league meeting against the clubs bitter rivals.The coach’s response will be fascinating, as in much the same way as Spain played, more often then not, without a specific centre forward to devastating effect during the European Championships, Barcelona may now go into their biggest game of the season to date without a defender worthy of the name. ‘Right-back’ Dani Alves plays further forward then your average winger and the same can be said of Jordi Alba on the opposite flank – even then the former Valencia man’s position has often been on the left side of midfield in a 3-4-3 formation since his summer move to Catalonia – and with a pairing of any two from Alex Song, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets likely to make up the partnership in the heart of the home team’s backline it really could be a throwback to the good old days when five forwards would give a pair of hapless defenders the runaround for 90 minutes in baggy shorts held up by a belt and buckle that was just as likely to lacerate their stomach as maintain their modesty when a robust challenge sent them sprawling.Another link to days gone by are the quite ridiculous scoring feats the two most celebrated players on show continue to achieve for their respective clubs as Cristiano Ronaldo scored his second hat-trick in a row against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday to take his tally for the season to 13 in only 12 appearances while Lionel Messi sits on a measly ten in ten having failed to score in the past three games in what represents something of a drought for the World Player of the Year. Allied to the fact that Messi broke Ronaldo’s goalscoring record last season (which the former Manchester United man had himself only achieved in the 2010-2011 campaign) when he hit an astonishing 50 league goals and the frankly ridiculous statistic showing the Portuguese forward has now scored 158 goals in 156 games for Real and it becomes clear we are dealing with the two greatest attacking talents of a their generation and whose figures and consistent levels of achievement rank them alongside some of the games true greats.Vilanova has enjoyed a terrific start since taking over from Pep Guardiola at the Nou Camp with a perfect record of eight wins from eight games in the league and Champions League combined but it is worth noting that his only defeat to date came at the hands of Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, when a 2-1 loss in the Bernabeu meant Real were the victors on away goals after a pulsating first leg had finished 3-2 to Barca.His opposite number, and erstwhile sparring partner, Jose Mourinho, has endured a much rockier ride in his attempts to retain the La Liga crown. Madrid lie sixth in the table at the moment and had registered only four points after their first four games but their early season lethargy – when Mourinho claimed he had “no team” – seems to have been put firmly behind them in some style since they came back from the dead in the last five minutes to defeat Manchester City 3-2 in their opening Champions League group game and Los Merengues have now, including that impressive turnaround, scored 14 goals in their last four games so Barca should beware.Verdict:
Odds of 4/5 on Barcelona at home, almost regardless of their opponents, look to be the first tick on the box for quite an accumulator but in spite of their unrivaled capacity to keep possession and thus nullify the threat on their own goal it would be still be foolish to imagine that playing without any true defender against a team who scored 121 league goals last season won’t have repercussions. Real and Mourinho also got quite the monkey off their back when they won the final Clasico of last season 2-1 at the Nou Camp to all but confirm the title and with a full squad to choose from against a team who are set to feature, by Vilanova’s own admission, “players in a position that aren’t their own” and will hold absolutely no fear for anyone in white.The 3/1 available on the champions to return to Madrid with three priceless points and a significant psychological blow looks far too good to ignore here as Jose and his charges will see this as a fantastic opportunity to cut the gap at the top to five points, although for those of a more cautious nature the 19/10 on Madrid with a draw no bet looks a fair punt with far less risk against a team who, it must be acknowledged, aren’t accustomed to losing very often.In the goalscorers markets Gonzalo Higuain is wonderfully priced at 8/1 to complete the feat of scoring first in a Clasico encounter for the second time in a row while Cesc Fabregas has hit a rich vein of form in front of goal of late and also looks good value at 15/2 to bag the game’s opener while Pepe’s sizeable presence at set-pieces could be well worth some interest as the Portugal defender can be had at 10/1 to score at any time in the game.
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jreilly - who has written 175 posts on Premier League Odds | Tips | Champions League Odds | Boylesports[/url].