A Barcelona vs Real Madrid encounter hadn’t finished goalless since 2002, but the truth is that for the neutral fans, this is a result that spices things up in the fight for the Spanish title, since both teams continue to share the top of the standings after 17 rounds.
Ernesto Valverde doesn’t have the confidence of the supporters
It was once again visible the difficulty that Barcelona feels against teams of higher footballing quality, capable of taking the ball away from the Catalans, and the manager Ernesto Valverde doesn’t seem to have an antidote to avoid this kind of situations.
A very personalized and pressuring Real Madrid forced the crowd at Camp Nou to boo their team on several occasions due to their inability to take control of the match and, although they’ve created their goalscoring opportunities, it is also true that Real Madrid was very close to hurting the Blaugrana defence on several occasions.
The encounter finished on a goalless draw, but the Blaugrana fans were hoping for a different outcome, and fundamentally from a different performance level from their team that was unable to apply serious pressure to the opposition.
Ironically, despite leading La Liga and having won their group in the Champions League, this Valverde’s Barcelona isn’t convincing the fans or the press, and the scenario of a potential departure from the current Catalan manager continues on top of the table, with a potential new European disaster maybe being the last straw on their ambitions.
Very personalized Real Madrid at Camp Nou
Unlike what would be expected, Real Madrid adopted a very bold posture at Camp Nou, applying pressure constantly, which surprised their opponents and forced the Catalans to play more in transition that progressing with the ball possession.
The way the merengues snatched the ball from Barcelona on their own midfield was truly illustrative of the evolution Zinedine Zidane’s side has been having for the past couple of weeks, and if they had a true matador on the attacking front (yes, I’m thinking about him too…) they would probably have “shocked” Catalunya with an important victory that would have isolated them at the top of La Liga.
— RM Play ▶️ (@RMPIay) December 19, 2019
Players like Isco or Gareth Bale appeared with some surprise on the starting line-up and they took advantage of that opportunity, causing a lot of problems to Barcelona’s defenders. However, they lacked the most important thing which was putting the ball in the back of the net.
In fact, the Welsh actually scored, but Mendy was offside when he received the ball before crossing to the goal of the former Tottenham winger.
Bookmakers continue favouring Barcelona
Despite the excellent response of Real Madrid at Camp Nou, the odds to win the 2019/20 edition of La Liga didn’t change because of that, with Barcelona continuing to be the stand-out favourites to win it at 1.37 on 1XBet, while Real Madrid is still considerably higher at around 2.40.
Here, the Lionel Messi aspect can be important because, as it has been clear, he is capable of unlocking a lot of Barcelona’s matches in their favour, something that Real Madrid isn’t able to do these days, and it doesn’t matter how good Karim Benzema’s moment of form is, because he is not a top-5 player in the world and the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo won’t be easily remedied.
Sevilla (31pts) and Atlético de Madrid (29pts) were thankful for this result that maintain them within line of sight of the top of the league table.
— RM Play ▶️ (@RMPIay) December 18, 2019
The Sevillians are 5 points away from it while the Colchoneros are already 7 points away, but with 21 matches left to play, everything can still happen moving forward.
Naturally, the odds for them to win the competition are well inflated due to their theoretical inferiority when compared to the two Spanish giants, as well as their point disadvantage.
Atlético are priced at 18.00 on the main bookmakers while Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla are at around 34.00 and it would really be an amazing accomplishment if the Spanish manager could put them in title contention this season already.
Lionel Messi heading towards another Pichichi
Despite not having scored on the “El Clasico” and even missing some matches at the start of the competition due to injury, Lionel Messi is already leading the list of top goal scorers of La Liga, with the company of Karim Benzema, but it is the Argentinian who dominates the market to win this individual trophy once again.
Messi is priced only at 1.16 on Bet365 when compared to the 3.50 of Benzema and the 7.00 of Luis Suárez, and honestly the only way we will see a different winner than Messi on this category is if he has some kind of physical problem that prevents him from playing in a lot of matches moving forward, due to his superior efficiency when compared to the other contenders.
Messi only has 12 matches played in La Liga with 12 goals scored, while Benzema needed 16 to score those same 12 goals…