Roll up, roll up, step right this way… the greatest show in town returns.

The fixture computer has played a blinder this week with El Clasico scheduled the day before Christmas Eve.

A Saturday lunchtime kick-off no less, right at the time when thousands of ordinary folk will be doing their last-minute festive shopping in the centre of Madrid. Genius.

Not that 80,000 souls packed inside the Santiago Bernabeu will be too worried about that. The only gift they’ll be after is three points.

A win in this particular edition of the ‘best club game on the planet’ could well be decisive in the La Liga title race.

At present, Barcelona are already 11 points ahead of Real Madrid, and surely if that were to be extended to 14 – even though Los Blancos will have a game in hand – that’s an insurmountable gap to close.

If Zinedine Zidane’s men play anywhere close to the form they showed in the two legs of the Supercopa de Espana, however, when they comprehensively brushed aside the Blaugrana, then it brings the gap to eight and potentially then five should Real win the game in hand.

For a squad that can boast the likes of Ronaldo, Isco, Modric etc., five points is within reach across the remainder of the campaign.

The hosts will be aware of just how much Barca always seem to struggle with the early Saturday kick-offs too. The Catalans just can’t seem to get themselves going when having to play in that slot.

Back in 2013, Real were a mammoth 16 points behind Barcelona when the latter arrived in the Spanish capital. A battle royale commenced and Los Blancos took the game 2-1 thanks to a late Sergio Ramos header from a corner. Where have we heard that before?!

Zidane has the luxury of a fully fit squad available for this game, the perils of getting booked or sent off in the Club World Cup final (which would’ve impacted on El Clasico) successfully negotiated.

It’s a game that Real simply have to win so expect to see them come flying out of the blocks and taking the game to Ernesto Valverde’s side from the first whistle. How the visitors cope with that early onslaught will largely author how well the afternoon will go for them.

Ronaldo will be hunting for some more La Liga goals, and BetVictor have him at  to score first. Lionel Messi, the highest scorer of all time in this fixture, and once again leading the Pichichi charts in 2017/18 is at to net the opener.

‘El Clasico’ – literally ‘The Classic’ – has odds of for a thriller of over 3,5 goals.

Sit back, relax, enjoy…you’re in for an early Christmas treat.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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