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Barcelona vs Real Madrid: Lopetegui can profit from missing Messi

Barcelona vs Real Madrid Match Preview and Predictions

Sunday sees the first Clasico of the season but the excitement has been tempered by the fact there will be no Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo playing at Camp Nou.

[All odds correct at time of publication]

Ronaldo ended his nine-year spell at the Bernabeu by joining Juventus in the summer, a move which looks to have paid off judging by their success in Serie A and the Champions League this season.

Worryingly for Barca, Messi fractured a bone in his right arm after falling awkwardly during the 4-2 win against Sevilla and is set to be out for around three weeks.

Match information

When is it? Sunday 28th October

What time is kick-off? 15:15

Where is it being played? Camp Nou

Which channel is it on? Eleven Sports

Barcelona vs Real Madrid Betting Tips

Here are our best tips for Sunday's Clasico for which we also have a range of other markets available:

The lowdown

As if the thrill of the first Clasico of the season wasn't enough, the game takes place with the future of Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui under threat.

Los Blancos went into Tuesday's clash with Viktoria Plzen having lost four of their last five in all competitions and although they managed a 2-1 win, it was another unconvincing performance from the European champions.

Real Madrid are outside the European spots in seventh place and have not scored away from home in their last three matches.

Speculation persists that Lopetegui will be sacked before Sunday's Barcelona vs Real Madrid match, but club director Emilio Butragueno insists the former national team boss will be in the dug-out and says it "is important to stay calm and trust the players".

That seems easier said than done judging by recent results, although Real Madrid have not lost a league game at Camp Nou in the last three seasons and they also have the advantage of not facing Messi.

Additionally, they will have one day extra to prepare for the game against Barca, who have had a tough Champions League encounter with Inter Milan ahead of El Clasico.

Real Madrid also welcomed back Gareth Bale on Tuesday and so the first of our Barcelona vs Real Madrid predictions is a draw at 11/4, despite the lack of form from the visitors who always raise their game against their arch rivals.

This weekend's best bets

If you're interested in accumulators or in-play betting, check out our regular betting columns:

First goalscorer tips

With Messi out of the equation, we like the look of Philippe Coutinho to open the scoring at an enticing 6/1.

The former Liverpool attacker has broken the deadlock in three of his last five matches at the time of writing, including second-minute goals against Tottenham and Sevilla.

Anytime goalscorer tips

Marcelo has never scored against Barcelona but he has found the back of the net in his last two games and will be unable to curb his attacking instincts should Real Madrid fall behind.

The Brazilian full-back bagged five goals last season and is already on course to score more in the current campaign so looks excellent value at 11/1 in the anytime goalscorer odds.

Where the game will be won or lost

Plzen had plenty of joy down Real Madrid's right-hand side where winger Lucas Vazquez was operating at full-back in the absence of the injured Dani Carvajal.

Alvaro Odriozola started at right-back for the 2-1 defeat by Levante but with the hosts going two goals down after 13 minutes, he was sacrificed for Bale at half-time.

That could be an area Barca will be keen to exploit on Sunday when we are expecting an early goal.

Strangely, Barcelona's last three matches have involved a goal in the second minute and there have been early goals in two of Real's previous four games, although Karim Benzema was just a few seconds away from making it three with his 11th-minute opener on Tuesday.

Two of last season's four matches saw goals inside the first 10 minutes so that's the next of our Clasico predictions at 11/4.

The last of our Barcelona vs Real Madrid betting tips is for Coutinho to score anytime at 17/10. We have already picked out the Brazilian in the first goalscorer odds but three goals in his last seven matches is a better return than Luis Suarez over the same period.

Traders' Tips - View from the trading floor

Despite their recent troubles Real Madrid have good memories of their last three La Liga trips to Barcelona where they have drawn twice and won once. With Bale back in the side and Messi out for Barcelona, Lopetegui could earn some breathing space by gettng a result on Sunday.

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Warren Barner
@warren_barner in Football