Real Madrid will close the gap on injury-hit Barcelona

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Barcelona haven’t been at their destructive best in recent weeks and left it late to see off Athletic Bilbao at home in what was their first win in three last Sunday.

Carles Puyol’s injury proved problematic as Pep Guardiola unsuccessfully tried playing Sergio Busquets in defence, so the further absences of Dani Alves and Xavi when they visit Real Mallorca are a major concern, especially as those two created both goals against Athletic.

Mallorca are always a tough team to beat at home, even for Barca, who have won just one of their last three at the Iberostar Stadium, and last season’s Champions League contenders have lost only three in 13 in front of their own fans.

Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with Sporting Gijon a fortnight ago was the first time they had dropped points away all season, yet the combination of their stuttering form and list of absentees – Victor Valdes is also still out – renders the 2/1 on Mallorca drawing or winning great value.

If the champions so much as draw, it will give Real Madrid a chance to close to within three points with victory on their 9pm trip to La Coruna, an incredible turnaround given they looked effectively out of the race last month.

Three points are far from guaranteed though, as Barcelona are the only club to have beaten Deportivo at home since September, and the hosts are driven by an appetite for revenge on Jose Mourinho, whose Porto side denied them a Champions League Final place in 2003-04.

Depor aren’t the most attractive and attack-minded team in La Liga and will focus on making life tough for the title contenders, so under 2.5 goals appeals at 11/10, having been a feature of Real Madrid’s last seven on the road.

Mourinho’s men’s last three travelling triumphs have come by a 1-0 margin and a repeat is 6/1, while you would fancy Karim Benzema to get that goal at 10/3 following his midweek heroics.

A £25 double on Real Mallorca drawing or winning and under 2.5 goals between Deportivo and Real Madrid provides a profit of £132.50. New customers can sign up here for a free £25 bet.

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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.