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 Real Madrid aiming for title boost in El Clasico

Real Madrid host Barcelona on December 23 for a match that could have a massive bearing on the destination of this season's La Liga title.

Barca are currently eight points in front of Madrid, with both sides facing two winnable fitures ahead of the first El Clasico of the current campaign.

Madrid are priced at 5/4 to win the game, with Barcelona available at 19/10. The draw is on offer at 13/5.

The home side have virtually a full squad to choose from, with third-choice goalkeeper Luca Zidane their only long-term absentee at the moment.

Manager Zinedine Zidane will hope Gareth Bale is firing after an injury-hit start to the season, while Marco Asensio should also be available for selection.

Barca's Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele are both major doubts for the game, and a return for Rafinha also looks unlikely as he continues to build up his fitness after a long spell on the sidelines.

Madrid are currently priced around 4/1 to win the title, but keep an eye on Sportingbet promotional code 2018 offers to get the best value as the season progresses.

Zidane's side haven't beaten Barcelona at the Bernabeu since a 3-1 victory during the 2014/15 season and they are available at 14/1 to match that scoreline this time around.

Madrid took just a point from their two league meetings with Barca last season, although they had the upper hand in the Spanish Super Cup at the start of the current campaign.

They won 3-1 at the Nou Camp and followed up with a 2-0 home victory in the second leg, so under 2.5 goals at odds of 16/11 could be worth backing in their next meeting.

After picking up 34 points from their opening 12 games of the season, Barca have been held to draws in their last two league matches.

Umtiti and Dembele are likely to be missed and a draw at the Bernabeu would be viewed as a decent result. A 1-1 scoreline will attract many punters and is on offer at around 13/2.

With the two sides expected to head into the game with the eight point gap between them still intact, the El Clasico is a fixture Madrid simply cannot afford to lose.

Reducing the margin to five points would send Los Blancos into the Christmas break full of confidence, especially with Barca facing a couple of difficult away games during January.

Madrid look a good bet at 5/4 to win the match and crank up the pressure on Ernesto Valverde's side.

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