Barcelona endure crushing Real Madrid loss prior to Chelsea’s visit

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Odds of 7/4 on Chelsea conquering Barcelona and reaching the Champions League final are looking increasingly attractive after the holders followed their midweek reverse at Stamford Bridge with an even costlier one domestically.

Pep Guardiola’s side effectively surrendered the La Liga title that they had claimed in each of the last three seasons courtesy of a 2-1 home defeat to rivals Real Madrid, who hadn’t beaten them in 90 minutes since the coach’s 2008 arrival.

Just as rare to the European champions as Clasico disappointment is the sensation of losing consecutive games, the capital club’s 2-1 victory marking the first time in almost three years that Barcelona have failed to bounce back.

And given that the last pair of defeats – encountered against Mallorca and Osasuna in 2009 – came at the end of a campaign in which the league was effectively sewn up, the last damaging successive setbacks were back in August 2008.

The losses to both Chelsea and Real Madrid – now 1/250 near certainties to finish first with a seven-point lead and only three matches to blow it – featured their usual dominance of possession, but a lack of composure in front of goal and some alarming defensive errors.

Yet despite Cristiano Ronaldo ensuring that Barcelona were beaten at the Camp Nou for the first time in over 19 months, they are 1/4 to recover with victory, having won their previous nine fixtures in front of their fans.

Chelsea have gone six games without defeat against them though and lost just one of their 14 matches under interim boss Roberto Di Matteo, so the 9/1 outsiders will be quietly confident of doing enough to progress.

Even with a 1-0 advantage however, they are rated the least likely to win the competition at 13/2, whereas Barcelona remain 6/5 favourites. Di Matteo meanwhile is 7/4 to land the job on a permanent basis.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.