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Real Madrid V FC Barcelona

Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Saturday 21st November 2015 at 17.15 GMT

The context

As is not uncommon in El Clasicos, these two great rivals go into the first derby of the season sitting in first and second place in the league table. Real currently sit three points behind La Liga leaders Barca after losing their last game – an away defeat at Sevilla. An away win would see Barcelona sitting a loft six points above Los Blancos, and alarm bells could be ringing in the Spanish capital come Saturday evening.

The History

The history of El Clasico dates back to the first La Liga season in 1929, although the first ‘friendly’ game is reported to have been played as long ago as 1902. Here are some more key numbers from El Clasico history;

229 – The total number of competitive matches played between the two sides. Real have won 92 times, with 89 wins for Barca and 48 draws.

388 – The number of goals Real have scored in official ‘Clasicos’, 16 more than Barca.

42 – most player appearances (Xavi Hernadez)

32 – The number of ‘Clasico’ appearances made by Barca coach Luis Enrique for Real (1991-96) and Barca (1996-2004).

21 – The most El Clasico goals, scored by Lionel Messi.

Team News

The big team news is that Lionel Messi is reported to be back in training ahead of Saturday’s match and could be fit enough to take a place on the substitutes bench. Rafinha is definitely out until the new year, and there are doubts about the availability of Ivan Rakitic after he tore his calf muscle playing in the Champions League game against BATE. For Real, Gareth Bale should be back to full fitness after missing Wales’ friendly defeat against the Netherlands, and Los Merengues should also see James Rodriguez and Sergio Ramos back to full fitness, so the Galactico count could be at capacity. However, that could depend on the availability of striker Karim Benzema, who reportedly has a hamstring problem. ‘Keeper Keylor Navas is also a possible doubt. All eyes, however, will be on the Argentinian wizard whose goals have graced many recent El Clasico clashes.

Ronaldo V Messi

The big news ahead of the game is the readiness of Messi after two months out injured, but whether he starts or just appears for a second-half cameo, there is no doubt the influence the little Argentine has had, and continues to have on this fixture.

In recent times, El Clasico has almost become an individual battle in which the world’s two finest footballers have gone head to head.

Messi is El Clasico’s all-time leading scorer with 21 goals (14 in La Liga, which is level with the great Alfredo di Stefano), whilst Ronaldo has an impressive 15, which ranks him level with Raul and three behind di Stefano’s Real El Clasico record. Messi also has the most hat tricks in El Clasico matches (2).

El Clasico Betting

Full Time Result

Real Madrid 2.50, Draw 3.60, Barcelona 2.75

Goals Over / Under

Over 2.5 – 1.47, Under 2.5 – 2.60

Both teams to score

Yes – 1.44, No – 2.62

First Goalscorer

Ronaldo 4.33

Messi 5.00

Neymar 5.50

Suarez 6.00

Benzema 6.50

By: Steven Paget