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Stuart Dalgleish 2nd May 2009 - 11:32

Real can win this battle but Barça will win the war

Tonight El Clásico, the biggest game in European football, takes place at the Santiago Bernabéu and the stakes could not be higher.

Nothing but a win will do for Los Merengues or Juande Ramos can kiss goodbye to any hopes of winning La Liga, thoughts that were well off the former Spurs manager's mind when the two sides last met in December - his first game in charge.

Barça won 2-0 that night and widened the gap at the top of the table to 12 points and only the most ardent Real fan would've thought their team could mount a title challenge from there. But 18 games and 17 wins later Madrid are very much in the race for the championship, and will really fancy their chances if they can cut the lead to just one point.

Of course it won't be easy, Barcelona are in no bad shape themselves at the minute having lost just three league games, rattling in 94 goals in the process, all season long. With Champions League and Copa del Rey games still to play though, Real will be hoping fatigue might get the better of Barça's squad, Josep Guardiola's team have already played 11 games more than their arch-rivals this campaign.

Real have won the last two meetings at the Bernabéu, with Barcelona's players having to perform a humiliating guard of honour last season in respect of the hosts winning the league, Barça won the fixture in the 2005-06 season with more respect being shown, this time by the Madrid faithful, Ronaldinho received a standing ovation after scoring the 3rd goal of their 3-0 win.

Ramos' team are marginal favourites for the game at odds of 6/4, with only one home defeat all season it looks great value. 14 times the scores have finished level when these two have played La Liga fixtures in Madrid, that eventuality tonight is a 23/10 shot. The blaugrana, with 12 away wins from 16 league games, are a 7/4 chance to claim all three points and effectively end the home team's title challenge.

Legendary front-man Raúl has scored 24 goals in all competitions this season and is priced at 6/1 to grab the first of the game or 7/4 to strike at any point of the match. From further back on the pitch Brazilian wingback Marcelo has found the net three times in his last six matches and is a tempting 16/1 to open the scoring in this game, 6/1 to pounce at anytime of the 90 minutes.

There's nothing to split Barça's outstanding front three in the betting, Samuel Eto'o, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi are all quoted at 6/1 for the first goal of the game, with an incredible 90 goals between them this season you can see why. Eto'o and Messi both have four goals in El Clásico fixtures.

It promises to be a fantastic occasion so make sure you choose William Hill to make the evening even more enjoyable, our excellent betlive service the place to be for in-running betting opportunities.

Real Madrid v Barcelona - Saturday 19:00

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