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Real Madrid in pole position to crush title hopes of El Clasico rivals Barca

Real Madrid have lost just one of the last six El Clasico clashes with Barcelona. With their iconic forwards boasting exactly the same scoring records in March, punters could be forgiven for thinking the betting will be close.

Coral make Carlo Ancelotti’s side strong 6/5 (from 5/4) favourites for a home win at the Bernabeu, however, because of the rampant recent performances from Real in Europe. Barca did more than enough to take themselves past Manchester City in the round of 16, but Madrid mauled Schalke 9-2 on aggregate.

Tata Martino’s Catalan giants trail Real by four points in the Spanish top-flight, so they are 12/5 shots to close that gap to just one by winning away. A draw is priced the same.

Believe it or not, the better value in the battle of prolific forwards is by backing Lionel Messi. Both he and Madrid superstar Ronaldo have netted five times from four appearances in March, yet the Barcelona attacker is 11/10 to score anytime.

Punters that prefer backing home comforts and Ronaldo must realise that he is odds-on for an El Clasico goal at 4/5. Real have home advantage but, just to put into perspective how good value Messi is, the Portugal captain has a less impressive goals to games ratio than his Argentine counterpart.

Messi has 18 in 26 El Clasico appearances (0.69) compared to Ronaldo’s 12 in 20 (0.6). A likely reason for Coral making the former better value to score here is the injury problems he’s experienced this term.

If you’re looking for Madrid goals, but see little point in betting on Ronaldo, then a goal from defence may be a decent bet. A centre back has scored in three of the last four El Clasico encounters.

Take odds of 6/1 on Sergio Ramos, 8/1 on Pepe or 10/1 on Raphael Varane finding the target anytime – perhaps from a set piece against the diminutive pass masters of Barca.

Real’s talent youngster Jese Rodriguez will miss the rest of the season after sustaining a serious knee ligament injury in the Champions League last 16 second leg victory over Schalke. That should result in Gareth Bale being promoted into the XI, and you can back the Welsh wizard at 7/1 to score first.

Playmaker Luka Modric (9/2 for a goal anytime), Karim Benzema (6/4) and Angel Di Maria (7/2) should all return for the hosts too. Barcelona have a fully fit squad, so Martino may recall Cesc Fabregas (3/1) and Neymar (2/1) to supplement Messi.

Back Madrid to all but end Barca hopes of retaining the La Liga title, but expect both teams to score as they have in each of the last 14 Clasicos. This outcome is 27/10.