El Clasico: Barcelona vs Real Madrid La Liga Preview
Unbeaten Barcelona take on big rivals Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday, one of the biggest games in world football. Infogol’s Analyst previews the game, using expected goals (xG) to generate the best bets.
Barcelona Expected Goals (xG)
Barcelona have had an extraordinary season, winning the league at a canter and hammering Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final last month to complete a domestic double. Their problem is, though, that these successes have been a little overshadowed by a Champions League exit to Roma.
One way they can put that disappointment behind them would be to become the first Spanish team to go a full season unbeaten, a feat that would give their fans massive bragging rights over old rivals Real Madrid.
A 4-2 win against Deportivo sealed the title (xG: DEP 2.5 – 4.2 BAR), with another great attacking performance leaving them with just three games to achieve their goal.
They have unsurprisingly generated a host of chances this season - 91.3 xG to be exact - an average of 2.7 per game, and Ernesto Valverde’s side will be looking for a repeat of the first El Clásico of the season, in which they thumped Los Blancos 3-0 on their own patch (xG: RMA 1.6 – 3.9 BAR).
Messi vs Ronaldo: 2017/18 La Liga season comparison
Lionel Messi has once again been Barcelona’s stand out performer, and his expected goal numbers are very impressive, with the Argentinian forward averaging 0.9 xG per game. He scored in the reverse fixture, as well as the teams’ Spanish Super Cup clash back in August, and has a habit of being a thorn in Madrid’s side.
Real Madrid Expected Goals (xG)
Real Madrid go into this game on the back of qualifying for yet another Champions League final, overcoming Bayern Munich 4-3 on aggregate.
The final score line didn’t tell the whole story though, as Real Madrid’s defensive issues remain in the spotlight as they conceded a host of chances over both legs (xG: RMA 2.5 – 5.1 BAY).
It hasn’t just been in the Champions League that they have looked exposed though, with games against rock-bottom Malaga (2.1 xG) and 16th-placed Leganes (2.5 xG) showcasing Madrid’s defensive vulnerability.
Infogol La Liga Expected Goal (xG) table
Zinedine Zidane’s team have conceded an average of 2.0 xG in their last 10 matches, but thankfully for them, they have been even better in attack, averaging 2.7 xG in that time.
Cristiano Ronaldo may have started off quietly this season in terms of goals, but his process even then was very impressive. He has been averaging 1.1 xG per game this season, so it is likely that he will get a chance in this game – but he may be outshone by his biggest (and littlest) rival.
Real Madrid have been very poor defensively of late and Barcelona are expected to cause plenty of problems, and ultimately complete the El Clásico double in a high-scoring game. Lionel Messi is their talisman, and he has been in great form all season, so take the 13/5 about him to score first.
Barcelona to win and over 2.5 goals @ 11/10
Lionel Messi to score first @ 13/5