One of the football’s greatest rivalries will take place in Miami on Saturday as Real Madrid and Barcelona go head to head in the International Champions Cup. The match will represent the first time in 25 years that the two giants of Spanish football have met outside of Spain. Miami Dolphin’s 65,000 capacity Hard Rock Stadium is sure to provide a fantastic backdrop for one of football’s greatest spectacles.
Last time out Real Madrid were humbled 4-1 by Manchester City following a second half onslaught by Pep Guardiola’s side. A huge crowd of 93,000 in Los Angeles saw Guardiola’s new look team showcase their attacking talents as goals from Nicolas Otamendi, Raheem Sterling, John Stones and Brahim Diaz gave them the victory. Oscar Rodriguez scored a stunning late consolation goal for Real Madrid, but Zinedine Zidane will have been far from happy with his team’s performance on the night.
Barcelona, on the other hand, come into the game off the back of a 1-0 victory against Manchester United in a game where Neymar got the all important goal again. The Brazilian striker has been linked with a big money to PSG in the press, but on the pitch he has been in scintillating form so far in pre-season, having scored three goals in two appearances.
Zinedine Zidane selected a strong starting line up against Manchester City which included a front line of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Isco and he is likely to field the same front three on Saturday. Two men expected to return to the starting line up will be Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos who both sat out the game against Manchester City last time out. Cristiano Ronaldo has not travelled with the squad to America following his exploits with Portugal at the Confederations Cup, so Real Madrid will have to cope without their talisman again.
New Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has made a whole host of changes so far in pre-season as he seeks to take a look at all of the players at his disposal. Despite this he will be expected to start with the formidable trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar in attack against Real Madrid. Gerard Deulofeu and Rafinha are both nursing injuries and will miss the game, but other than that Barcelona have a clean bill of health, so expect Valverde to name a strong starting line up.
Barcelona are slight favourites for the match with Ladbrokes offering odds of 11/8 on them to win inside 90 minutes. Real Madrid are slightly longer odds at 7/4, but there isn’t much in it in what the bookies expect to be a tightly contested affair. Barcelona to be winning at HT and FT is 5/2 and that could be tempting for a team who have looked good in pre-season so far. Real Madrid have struggled up to now on American soil, losing to both Manchester United and Manchester City and it is tough to see them overcoming Barcelona in Miami on Saturday. Neymar has been in superb form so far and Ladbrokes are offering odds of him to be the First Scorer at 5/1 and that looks like a tempting bet to me.
Neymar FGS – 5/1 (Ladbrokes)