The latest instalment of 'El Clasico' is live on Sky Sports on Wednesday night as Real Madrid and Barcelona go head-to-head in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. It is a fixture that rarely fails to capture the imagination and there is plenty at stake this week as Real bid to improve on a disappointing season so far.
Jose Mourinho's team find themselves 15 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona as their title defence looks set to prove fruitless this term. Real go into this home fixture at the Bernabeu as underdogs as they are available at 15/8 in the match odds, while Barcelona can be backed at 5/4 and the draw is 13/5 with Ladbrokes.
Mourinho has plenty to prove following criticism from fans in recent weeks and there is talk that he is likely to leave the club in the summer. His job isn't made any easier by the absence of several key players this week though as Iker Casillas and Pepe are injured, while Sergio Ramos, Di Maria and Fabio Coentrao are all suspended.
The long list of absentees will be a real worry ahead of the visit of Barca, who take a fully fit squad to the Bernabeu following Gerard Pique's returns from suspension. Barca are currently 4/9 odds on to qualify for the final, while Real are priced 13/8 as they look to extend a 31-match unbeaten run at home.
However, their record at the Bernabeu in this Real Madrid v Barcelona fixture is poor as they have won just one of the last eight, while Barca were the last team to win here back in January 2012. It is a fixture that is always dominated by the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and the world's leading footballers will go head-to-head once more.
Ronaldo and Messi scored all four goals in a 2-2 draw when the sides met in La Liga in October and Ladbrokes offer 10/1 for Messi and Ronaldo to both score two or more goals in Wednesday's match. Ronaldo has scored in each of his last six appearances in this fixture and he is 7/2 to be first goalscorer after notching eight goals in his last four home games.
Ronaldo, who has scored 179 goals in 176 appearances for Real, grabbed a hat-trick in Real's 4-0 win over Getafe on Sunday, although Messi again outshone him by scoring four in Barca's 5-1 win over Osasuna. Messi is 3/1 favourite to score first with Ladbrokes bookmakers, who are offering to refund losing first scorer bets if Messi scores first or last this week.
There has certainly been plenty of goals in this fixture in recent years as the last 10 meetings between these teams has seen both teams score, while six of the last nine have involved over 3.5 goals. More than three goals on Wednesday is a 6/5 punt, although for a touch more value it could be worth a look at over 3.5 goals and Barca to win combined at 18/5.
Barca, whose last nine in all competitions have gone over 3.5, arrive at the Bernabeu in form having won 15 of their last 18 games. They have won eight of their last nine away from home and they could take advantage of Real's injury and disciplinary problems, with Ladbrokes offering 16/1 for Barca to win 3-2.
Real Madrid v Barcelona Form
Check the season's statistics for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, plus the odds ahead of Wednesday's match.
Real Madrid v Barcelona Tips
Tip #1: Barcelona win and over 3.5 goals @ 18/5 with Ladbrokes.
Tip #2: Cristiano Ronaldo to score first @ 7/2 with Ladbrokes.
Tip #3: Cristiano Ronald and Lionel Messi to both score two or more goals in the match @ 10/1 with Ladbrokes.
15/8 Real Madrid
To Qualify Betting
13/8 Real Madrid
Correct Score Odds
12/1 Real Madrid 1-0
16/1 Real Madrid 2-0
9/1 Real Madrid 2-1
16/1 Draw 0-0
13/2 Draw 1-1
10/1 Draw 2-2
10/1 Barcelona 1-0
11/1 Barcelona 2-0
15/2 Barcelona 2-1
First Goalscorer Odds
3/1 Lionel Messi
7/2 Cristiano Ronaldo
5/1 David Villa
11/2 Karim Benzema
11/2 Gonzalo Higuain
7/1 Rodriguez Pedro
8/1 Cesc Fabregas
8/1 Alexis Sanchez
12/1 Jose Maria Callejon
12/1 Andres Iniesta
12/1 Mesut Ozil
Odds supplied by Ladbrokes.com, who offer live in-play betting throughout the Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday night.
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