Real Madrid vs Barcelona Prediction: Away side to be strong in second 45

 | 20th April | 

7 mins read

Mark Sochon's La Liga Tips

Barcelona were in cruise control and heading towards the Champions League semi-final before a red card changed the game. Real fought for 120 minutes in Manchester and found a way to progress.

Now both sides have to face one another in another El Clasico on Sunday night (20:00) and our Spanish football expert Mark Sochon previews the game for us and makes his best Real Madrid vs Barcelona predictions...

Real Madrid vs Barcelona Betting Tips

  • Under 3.5 Goals & Over 49.5 Booking Points @ 21/20
  • Second Half Result - Barcelona @ 11/4

After a dramatic week of Champions League football, it’s straight into El Clásico for Real Madrid and Barcelona who meet for the third and final time this season on Sunday night at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Heading into this week, logic suggested that Barcelona would most likely progress in Europe and Real Madrid most likely wouldn’t, but when it comes to Los Blancos and the Champions League, things are rarely that simple.

Real Madrid did what they so often do in Europe, by somehow finding a way through against Manchester City on Wednesday night. Despite facing 33 shots and 18 corners across two hours of football at the Etihad Stadium, they only conceded once and won the penalty shootout with Andriy Lunin the hero to secure progress into yet another semi final.

24 hours earlier, Barcelona had contrived to make a mess of things against PSG, with Ronald Araujo’s needless 29th minute red card the turning point in a tie they were leading by two goals and playing with home advantage. Barça boss Xavi was also sent to the stand, his third red card of the season, as the Catalans imploded and an admittedly impressive PSG fought back with four unanswered goals.

Unsurprisingly the fallout from that game has continued, with rumblings of a dressing room rift after midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, not for the first time this season, publicly criticised his teammates in his post match comments.

He was also critical after Barcelona lost 2-1 in El Clásico at the Estadi Olímpic, a game they had bossed for the best part of an hour, before Jude Bellingham intervened with two goals to turn the game around.

Real Madrid were also 4-1 winners against Barcelona in the Supercopa in Saudi Arabia in January. However, that game was played at what was very much a low point in Barça’s season and their overall performance levels and results have been much more impressive over the past couple of months.

They’d won six in a row in all competitions before the PSG game in midweek, including an excellent 3-0 win away to Atlético Madrid in March. They’ve not lost an away game in La Liga all season, but are still eight points behind Real Madrid, making this a “must win” game if they’re to stand any chance of competing for the title.

Even were they to lose it, Real Madrid would still strongly back themselves to see out the job and win the league. However, they’d love to at least preserve their current advantage which would take the pressure off the league fixtures around their upcoming Champions League semi final against Bayern Munich.

It has been an almost flawless campaign for Los Blancos in terms of results. They’ve lost just once in La Liga and are still unbeaten in Europe, with their ability to dig in and defend well all the more remarkable when you consider they’ve been playing without their first choice goalkeeper and two defensive regulars, as a result of three long-term ACL injuries.

They head into this game after four straight league wins with Carlo Ancelotti’s rotation paying off last weekend as Aurélien Tchouaméni’s deflected effort sealed a 1-0 win at Mallorca.

Team News:

Real Madrid are expected to be at full strength in terms of availability with the exception of long-term absentees Thibaut Courtois and David Alaba.

However there will certainly be some tired legs after their exploits in Manchester. The most obvious change to the midweek eleven is the return of Aurélien Tchouaméni, who was suspended in Europe, in place of Nacho in central defence.

Barcelona have a slight advantage in that they’ve had an extra day off following their Champions League game and also in that their match against PSG didn’t go to Extra Time.

Xavi doesn’t have any fresh injury concerns but Alejandro Balde and Gavi remain out. The back four largely picks itself with 17 year old Pau Cubarsí now a mainstay in the team, but the big question for the Barça boss will be whether to go with Andreas Christensen as a holding midfielder or whether to roll the dice and go with a more expansive trio of Pedri, Frenkie De Jong and Ilkay Gundogan.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona Odds:

*Click on the link to get all the latest prices on this match from betfred.com

Real Madrid come into the game as the 4/5 favourites to make it a hat-trick of Clásico wins for the season. You can back Barcelona at 3/1 while the Draw is also priced at 3/1.

This is often billed as the game that always delivers in terms of action and goals. Even with the fixture perhaps not what it once was, it rarely disappoints as a spectacle and you can back Over 2.5 Goals at 8/15 while Over 3.5 Goals is on offer at 5/4.

Real Madrid and Both Teams to Score is priced at 2/1 while you can back Barcelona and Both Teams to Score at 5/1.

It’s rare that this match is played immediately after a huge Champions League week though and if you see tiredness setting in and this game failing to ignite, Under 2.5 Goals may look tempting at 11/8 while Both Teams to Score - No is priced at 6/4.

Jude Bellingham, on 16 league goals for the season, settled the reverse fixture with a brace and the Englishman is priced at 9/2 to score first and 13/10 to score anytime on Sunday.

Robert Lewandowski could yet challenge him in the race to be the Spanish top flight’s top scorer. The 13-goal striker is 6/1 to score first and 9/5 to score anytime.

Bet 1 - Under 3.5 Goals & Over 49.5 Booking Points @ 21/20

This particular edition of El Clásico feels like it may not live up to the hype with neither side likely to be in peak condition after their European exploits.

Real Madrid are likely to be more tired than their opponents and given they don’t need to win this game, we may see Carlo Ancelotti adopt quite a pragmatic attitude again. They won’t sit back to the extent they did in Manchester, but even with home advantage, Real Madrid may be happy enough to let their opponents have plenty of possession given the quality Los Blancos possess on the break.

Much will depend on Xavi and just how bold he’s willing to be, but there’s likely to be some mental fatigue as much as anything in the Barcelona camp after a bitterly disappointing week.

With tiredness a big factor, it’s hard to see this being one of the highest quality meetings in recent times and I’m using the #PickYourPunt tool to back Under 3.5 Goals and Over 49.5 Booking Points at 21/20.

Bet 2 - Second Half Result - Barcelona @ 11/4

While Real Madrid have had the better of the recent meetings in terms of results, Barcelona showed earlier in the season that they can cause problems for their great rivals. With eight points to make up in the title race, the onus is certainly on them to try to force an outcome here and they’ll need to push for a winner in the latter stages if they’re not ahead.

With Raphinha in good form and Lamine Yamal an incredibly exciting talent, they have players who are certainly capable of finding holes in what’s likely to be a tiring Real Madrid defence in the Second Half of this game and I’m going with Barcelona to win the Second Half at 11/4.

You can check out Mark's La Liga Betting Tips along with those from the rest of the Betfred Insights Spanish Football writers on our La Liga home page...

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