El Clasico: Real Madrid test is a must-win for Messi and Barcelona

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It’s the first time in eight years we’ve had to wait so long for the opening El Clasico of the season, but finally it’s upon us. And for hosts Barcelona, it represents a fixture they cannot afford to lose.

Already six points behind rivals Real Madrid in the title race, defeat for the Catalan giants could all but end their La Liga hopes before Christmas.

Luis Enrique’s charges have drawn each of their last two fixtures, while Zinedine Zidane has led Los Blancos to six straight wins and all told, Real head to Barca on a staggering 31-game unbeaten run.

But it’s the hosts who go into the contest as 17/20 favourites, with Real 11/4 for just a second league win at the Camp Nou in their last five visits.

A first La Liga draw between these sides since September 2012 can be backed at 14/5.

But this is all about MSN versus BBC. Except Real are already disadvantaged with Gareth Bale a long-term injury absence.

Lionel Messi can already count on 19 goals for the season – from just 16 games – including five in as many games in La Liga.

The Argentine ace leads the first goalscorer betting at 7/2 – and is the highest goalscorer in this fixture’s history with 21 – but hasn’t netted in his last five Clasicos.

When it comes to facing Real Madrid, it’s Luis Suarez who has come good for Barca, netting three times in his last three appearances.

The Uruguayan is alongside Messi at 7/2 to bag the opener, and both men are 4/5 to net anytime.

For Real, with Bale out, Cristiano Ronaldo’s role becomes even more pivotal.

The former Manchester United man loves the big occasion though, and has netted in four of the last five meetings with Barca.

And after a slow start to the year, Ronaldo has roared into life, firing in eight goals in his last four league games, including two hat-tricks.

At 5/1 to score first, Ronaldo’s price will surely tempt many, while the Portuguese is 11/10 to bag anytime.

Rarely will you see both teams to score as short as 2/5, but with 18 of the last 19 Clasicos seeing both keepers’ beaten, it’s understandable.

Far more value lies in Barca to win and both teams to score at 7/4, while 9/2 says Real come away with victory despite conceding.

Ahead of the game we’re enhancing Lionel Messi to score and Barcelona to win from 6/4 to 2/1, and Cristiano Ronaldo to score and Real Madrid to win from 4/1 to 6/1.

Kicking-off at 15:15 on Saturday, this game isn’t on the box, but handily you can watch all the action unfold on Ladbrokes.com with our Live Streaming service.

Click here for all our El Clasico markets and odds.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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