Barcelona v Real Madrid - El Clasico preview
Spanish La Liga : Barcelona v Real Madrid betting preview - Monday 20:00
Guardiola vs Mourinho, Messi vs Ronaldo; it's been seen before, but never has there been such anticipation to watch the best coaches and players in the world meet head to head.
As someone living in Spain, I can tell you that all the press have been talking about for at least two weeks is this game.
Sports papers like Marca and Sport are totally biased in favour of Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, and have therefore dedicated several pages gloating about previous victories over each over and why they'll win this time.
Endless television stations have brought in former players, coaches and celebrities to discuss El Clasico. Some have been pleasant debates, most have been heated arguments - I even saw a man storm off a TV show last weekend!
Everyone is talking about the first Clasico of the season. Street cafes and bars are full of people debating things like the time when former Barca player Luis Figo returned to the Nou Camp and someone threw a pig's head on the pitch, or if Real can avenge the 6-2 home defeat imposed on them a couple of years ago by their most hated of rivals.
Just which player will score first crops up in many conversations, and given that Ronaldo rarely shows up in the big games and that Messi has not scored in his last seven games against a Mourinho team, I think it's worth taking a chance on a defender netting the first goal of the game.
Gerard Pique (25/1 to score first, 8/1 anytime), a proud local boy and product of the hugely successful La Masia youth system, is my favoured pick to do that, but he can be temperamental and is arguably as likely to get sent off as he is to score.
Real Madrid fans may want to bet on one of their own defenders and Mourinho favourite Ricardo Carvalho (33/1 to score first, 12/1 anytime) fits the bill: Able to implement Jose's instructions to a tee, the Portuguese defender has been an important addition to the defence taking shape and has made several key tackles to save Los Blancos from conceding goals at crucial times in games.
Undefeated in all competitions, table topping Real Madrid (12/5) have gelled far quicker than most people expected. I'm sure we all thought Jose would shore up the defence but, bar the odd one goal win, Los Blancos have been superb going forward with 33 goals scored in 12 La Liga games.
So many goals are not what the world expects from a Mourinho team, but Ronaldo (7/2 to score first, 10/11 anytime) and Higuain (13/2 to score first, 7/4 anytime) are responsible for 21 of them and Benzema (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) has started to blossom recently.
Ozil (14/1 to score first, 11/2 anytime) and Di Maria (11/1 to score first, 4/1 anytime) have both also been impressive in white, but a better player than all of them can arguably be found in Barcelona's Lionel Messi (7/2 to score first, 10/11 anytime), the current FIFA World Player of the Year.
While he currently has one goal less than CR7 in La Liga this season, some of Messi's 13 league goals have been out of this world and Barcelona (11/10) would be no higher than third in the standings if not for most of them: For several weeks, Messi scores first and Barcelona wins (11/2) consistently yielded profit for punters.
David Villa (6/1 to score first, 13/8 anytime) has, however, started to find the net with more regularity than he did in the early games and will have a point to prove against a Real team who's president deemed him not to be a big enough name to buy a couple of summers ago, while Pedro (9/1 to score first, 3/1 anytime) scored twice in Barcelona's 3-0 away defeat of Panathinaikos midweek and once in the Catalans amazing 8-0 away defeat of Almeria last weekend.
As you have read, there are many plausible options in the scorers market tonight but if you think that both Ronaldo and Messi will score, William Hill offers a special enhanced match winner price of 3/1. If you are going with that one, you should also consider the "Yes" (8/15) option in the both teams to score market.
Against Barcelona, Mourinho has three wins, four defeats and two draws. In his last victory against the Catalans, Jose had Estaben Cambiasso, an intelligent midfield player with clever positioning for breaking up and starting attacks.
Without such a player as the Argentine midfielder and even though there are doubts about Xavi's fitness, I feel that Barcelona will overrun Real Madrid in midfield.
After last season's Champions league elimination, Guardiola cannot lose this game. It's a tough call, but I think Pep's boys will do just enough to win, probably by a one goal margin (14/5).
In the correct score market, I feel that f 1-0 to Barcelona (17/2) is worth a punt and, for a couple of quid, will also have an unlikely scorecast of Pique scores first and Barcelona win 1-0 - priced at 160/1.
In other markets, I like the double result bet of draw/Barca (5/1) and favour a half time draw (13/10) over Barcelona (6/4) or Real Madrid (13/5) going into the interval leading.
Make no mistake, this is one of the, if not the biggest game in world football.
As we close in on the kick off, shops will shut early, the streets will become vacant and taxi numbers will dwindle - It's fair to say that Spain will stand still come 21:00 local time.
This game is simply Unmissable, make sure you tune in and don't forget that William Hill offers more than 100 bet in-play opportunities.