Real Madrid’s hopes of a third consecutive La Liga title hang in the balance. They are six points adrift of Barcelona, and as much emphasis as they place on winning the season’s second El Clásico in early May, they need to keep winning before that showdown to keep the pressure on their great rivals.
It has been a rollercoaster few weeks for Real. Their apparent recovery under Juande Ramos has continued domestically – they have claimed 34 points from the last available 36 – but their Champions League last 16 humbling by Liverpool was one of their most humiliating ever defeats.
However, the Liverpool losses were more systematic of a general English domination in elite European club football than a return to early-season chaos for Real, and Ramos’ men should be backed to continue their fine La Liga form against Almeria at the Bernabéu.
The Andalusians have not won away from home since the opening day of the season and this match should be considered a definite home win, with a three goal margin hard to resist – Real have scored three times in a league match 10 times this term and have netted 18 goals in their last five La Liga encounters.
Barça host sixth-placed Málaga with their recent sticky league patch seemingly behind them. They have won both league matches without conceding since slipping up against Espanyol and Atlético Madrid and were on the right end of a Champions League rout last week, hitting five against Lyon.
Málaga have been in good form on the road recently, winning three and losing one of their last six away assignments, but they have not kept a clean sheet in that run. Barcelona prevailed 4-1 in their first league meeting this term and I again expect plenty of goals, with 3.5 goals a good starting point for a Spanish football bet.