Form Labs Weekender

COURTESYFOOTBALL FORM LABS

Real Madrid v Barcelona - Sunday 19:45, Sky Sports 1

Already the fixture that gets football fans worldwide excited, this Clasico has even more on it as the outcome will effectively determine the destination of the title. Anything less than a victory for Barca, who were dumped out of the Champions League in midweek and trail Real by three points despite having played a game more, will surely mean that Real would win La Liga for the first time since 2011/12.

Since the start of Real’s last title winning season, the giants of Spanish football have clashed a remarkable 20 times and both teams have scored in 19 of those games and 18 saw at least three goals as this fixture rarely fails to live up to the hype. In the league, Real Madrid have a somewhat underwhelming W4-D1-L6 record at home in Clasicos since 2005/06 and after a spell of dominance for home teams in Clasicos between 2012/13 and 2014/15 when hosts won four of six meetings, last term Real lost 4-0 at home under Benitez, before winning 2-1 at the Nou Camp under Zidane, who managed a draw in his first away Clasico this term.

Barca have suffered shock away defeats at the likes of Malaga and Deportivo within their last three away games, but they’ve won 2-1 at both Atletico and Sevilla already this term in their trips to top-four sides. What’s more, relatively poor away form going into a Clasico hasn’t seemed to have affected them in the past: their record when they’ve had an away PPG of less than 2 ahead of a trip to Real since 2005/06 is W4-D0-L1. Real are unbeaten at home this term but they’ve been held to draws by both Villarreal and Atletico, the only top-five sides to have visited them to date. Their record at home against Barca when they’ve had a home PPG of at least 2.5 is a modest W2-D1-L5, suggesting league form has little bearing on these clashes given how far ahead of the rest of the division these two have been in recent times.

Barcelona have lost two of their last four league visits to Real but interestingly both of those defeats came in a new manager’s first season in charge, under Tito Vilanova and Luis Enrique as this is a fixture that even the likes of Ancelotti and Mourinho took a while to get used, with both losing their first Clasicos. If we exclude those Barca defeats at the Bernabeu under a new manager that was facing a Real manager that had been in charge for at least a season, then Barca’s away Clasico record is a formidable W5-D1-L0 since Guardiola took over in 2008/09.

The clash is set to miss two superstars with Bale likely to miss out through injury, whilst Neymar is suspended and so the Catalans will largely be reliant on Suarez and Messi to provide their ammunition. That shouldn’t be a problem as the Uruguayan has four goals in five Clasicos, whilst Messi has an outstanding record at the Bernabeu, averaging a goal or an assist there every 60 minutes since 2008/09 in the league (7 goals and 5 assists). Conversely, since Ronaldo joined Real in 2009/10 he plays a role in a goal only every 191 minutes in home Clasicos (3 goals).

Heavy defeats at PSG and Juve in the Champions League have to be a concern, but the Catalans had a much easier game in midweek than Real, who had to go beyond the 90 minutes and had to work hard to keep Bayern at bay, whilst Barca had the majority of the ball against Juve but struggled to break through against their stubborn defence. They should have more joy here though as Real’s Champions League form certainly suggests they aren’t as strong at home this season. While they didn’t concede a goal in any of their eight home games last term, they’ve already shipped seven this season, whilst they of course lost in the 90 minutes against Bayern. We’re backing Barca 0 Asian Handicap at 2.55 as we expect them to make the title race very interesting as the season draws to a conclusion.

Chelsea v Spurs - Saturday 17:15. BBC One

Chelsea fans will expect a better performance than last time out from their players after they fell 2-0 at Old Trafford, the first time they’d failed to register a shot on target in the Premier League since September 2007. They’ve now lost twice in their last four, though they’d been on a sensational run of 20 victories from 23 in all competitions prior to this.

Spurs have closed the gap on Chelsea to just four points in recent weeks, and they head to Wembley as the team with momentum, having won each of their last eight, including three 4-0 victories in the league as well as a 6-0 win over Millwall in the last round of the cup. Indeed, two of those 4-0 wins have come in their last two games against Watford and Bournemouth, and while Chelsea offer a far higher standard of opposition we expect there to be plenty of goalmouth action in this one.

Chelsea’s imperious defence from earlier in the season seems to have deserted them, as it’s now just one clean sheet in their last eight in all competitions. As a result, six of these last eight have featured at least three strikes. Spurs have scored 15 goals in their four FA Cup matches this season, while they’ve only kept one clean sheet in their last 10 FA Cup matches against Premier League opposition. Furthermore, seven of the eight FA Cup semi-finals since 2012/13 have seen both teams score, while four of the last six have had three or more goals. We think there’s value in backing Over 2.5 Goals at 2.2.

Weekend Team News Analysis

West Ham v Everton
Michail Antonio (RW), West Ham

With Andy Carrol rarely able to put a string of games together these days the loss of Antonio for the rest of the season could be a significant blow to the Hammers. He’s their top scorer and assister (if you exclude Payet) this term, whilst they’ve failed to win any of the last nine he’s missed, losing five of these

The win against Swansea was only the Hammer’s sixth at the London Stadium this term and it’s telling that each of those victories have come against sides currently below them in the table, while they’re just W0-D2-L7 when hosting teams above them in the league standings. We’re backing Everton to win at 2.25 and continue their impressive form

Fiorentina v Inter Milan
Nikola Kalinic (FW), Fiorentina

Kalinic is enjoying a productive season at Fiorentina and tops the scoring charts with 14, but he got sent-off in the last minute of their match against Empoli last week. They’ve fared relatively well without him – W3-D3-L2 – but Roma are the only top-eight side they’ve faced in this sequence and that ended in a 4-0 defeat.

Inter have won five of their last eight on the road and we’re backing them to win at 2.75 and make it six from nine.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Augsburg
Jesus Vallejo (CB), Eintracht Frankfurt

Vallejo has made a significant impact since joining last summer and is Frankfurt’s best centre-back but will miss the rest of the season. They’ve lost six of the 10 matches he’s missed this term compared to just four of 19 with him as they’ve conceded 40% more goals per game.

Augsburg have shipped 11 in their last three on the road and so we could see goals. Over 2.5 Goals looks a great bet at 2.25, but we’re going for Over 3.5 at 4.33, which has copped in Frankfurt’s last two and four of Augsburg’s last nine.

Put our three selections above into a treble and you can get a juicy 23/1!!

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