By Sean Goff | Sports Reporter
Barcelona will have to do without the services of Carlos Puyol on Sunday night against Real Madrid after the 34-year-old dislocated his elbow away to Benfica in the Champions League midweek.
With Gerard Pique also likely to be an absentee it’s a further blow for the Catalans who are trading as 10/11 favourites in Paddy Power’s online betting ahead of the first League clash with Madrid this season having lost the Super Cup on away goals in a two-leg 4-4 thriller in August.
The home side will more than likely have a makeshift centre-back pairing of former Liverpool and Arsenal players Javier Mascherano and Alex Song to combat the combined threat of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain up front.
But Barca’s injury bulletin has seen the visitors clipped into 11/4 to beat their great rivals who are unbeaten so far this season in La Liga.
Jose Mourinho’s side can only look on enviously from sixth place after a stuttering start to their campaign.
And the Nou Camp isn’t a place where the spiky Portuguese manager would have chosen to get his side’s season back on track. Barcelona are eight points ahead of Real and a draw, priced up at 11/4 would arguably suit the home side and manager Francesc ‘Tito’ Vilanova better than Mourinho.
Barcelona’s talismatic Lionel Messi and Madrid’s Ronaldo have six League goals each so far this season despite the difference in League positions.
Messi is 16/5 to open the scoring on Sunday night (6.50pm) with his Real counterpart a 9/2 shot and Madrid won this fixture last season 2-1, with CR7’s 73rd-minute winner sealing the points for the visitors.
The last eight games between the two sides have produced more than 2.5 goals currently a 1/2 chance with Paddy Power but with Barca’s defensive woes and Madrid unlikely top recover from a 11-point deficit should they lose, the 1-1 draw at 13/2 could be the ideal compromise.
If Messi scores the last goal, we will refund all losing first/last goalscorer, correct score & scorecast singles on the match.