It was the darkest of footballing nights for supporters of Real Madrid.
On November 29th, 2010 they went into the biggest match on the planet against eternal rivals Barcelona top of the table, with Jose Mourinho having enjoyed the best start of any coach in Madrid’s history.
Humbled, humiliated and hurt they left Catalonia having received a ‘manita’, the Spanish expression for the 5-0 drubbing that will live long in the memory of those who witnessed it.
A heady mixture of incisive artistry and ruthless efficiency, it was quite possibly Barcelona’s greatest ever performance and some have even labelled it the best display of all time by a club side.
That was the first of five Clasicos last season, with Madrid’s only win coming after extra-time in the final of the Copa del Rey.
However, heading into Saturday’s clash at the Bernabeu, there is genuine belief among Madrid-based supporters and journalists alike that a first league victory over Barca since May 2008 is on the cards, and with it a freezing cold dish of revenge.
Having won a record-equalling 15 matches in a row, scoring 57 goals in the process, unbeaten all season at home and with no major injury concerns, Real Madrid look like serious value to beat Barca at 13/10 and should be backed at all costs.
One of Mourinho’s greatest skills as a coach is his ability to create an underlying, unshakable, unbreakable aura of self-belief within his team.
Wherever he has gone he has forged this intrinsic confidence and this season it has become evident that his Real Madrid side believes it will win every game it plays regardless of what happens.
Against Rayo Vallecano they were 1-0 down within 15 seconds and they went on to win 6-2. Against Osasuna they were pegged back to 1-1 only to go on and win the match 7-1, while in the Madrid derby against Atletico they went down 1-0 early on, only to end up winning 4-1.
Rayo, Osasuna and Atleti are clearly not in the same bracket, talent-wise, as Barcelona but what the results show is a Real resilience which has been growing throughout the season.
To this end, you could consider a small bet on the 25/1 offered for Barcelona to be winning at half-time and Madrid to win at full-time.
But the real money should be invested in the draw at half-time and a Madrid victory at full-time, which is available at a very tempting 5/1.
If a Real win looks likely given not only their current run, but also Barca’s away form this season (two wins, three draws and one defeat with only eight goals scored), there appears to be plenty of value in backing it to come after a stalemate at half-time.
Given the fact that they have faced each other six times this calendar year, the sides know pretty much what to expect, so it is unlikely that one will blow the other away in the first half.
Plus it is worth remembering the salient fact that four out of the five Clasicos last season were draws at half-time.
Bwin.com are offering a staggering amount of markets on the match, and one of the most intriguing concerns the number of yellow cards in the game.
The temptation is to back a high number in the match given that it is usually a frenetic, fiery affair and with Lass Diarra likely to start the game for Madrid there is certain to be at least one!
But instead I would urge caution in this market. After last season’s 5-0, a match which saw no fewer than 12 yellow cards, Jose Mourinho sent his side out in the ensuing games to be physical and brutish, believing it to be an effective way of curbing Barca’s attacking prowess.
This season, however, there seems to be little need for such a tactic given Madrid’s swaggering form.
Therefore the price of 31/20 for there to be fewer than 3.5 yellow cards in the second half looks too big and well worth investing in.
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