It took until the 54th minute for last Thursday's game to spring to life, until then the first El Clasico of 2012/13 had been an interesting tactical battle, though not the gripping spectacle we've come to expect.
Again at the weekend neither team were at their fluent or effervescent best: Los Blancos were undone by a set-piece in their defeat to Getafe and Blaugrana were disrupted by Osasuna's superb work-rate and pressing before scraping a late win.
The return of Pepe is a huge boost for Mourinho's side, the sub-plot of his exploits in Clásico's gone by have distracted from his organisation and defensive qualities. Since Pepe's arrival at the club, Real have never beaten their rivals when the Portuguese centre half has been missing. Elsewhere, expect rotation from Jose Mourinho tonight, with Benzema, Khedira and Coentrão all joining Pepe in the starting eleven.
Barça didn't exert their usual control in Pamplona at the weekend, that was until the arrival of Xavi, their second half substitutions helped overturn the one goal deficit. It's likely to be the same team that started at the Camp Nou last week, with Jordi Alba, Puyol, Fàbregas and Tello making way for Adriano, Mascherano, Xavi and Pedro.
Real Madrid are currently lacklustre, poor, weak, feeble, pitiful, don't just take it from me, though: "The way we played was unacceptable" was José's blunt assessment following their derby defeat to Getafe. "It’s one of those games that hasn’t frustrated me because I wasn’t at all surprised by the final score based on what I observed during the game."
They weren't the only team with problems: Barça failed to find a rhythm against Osasuna as they were harassed in possession, never given a second to settle. Unlike their rivals though, they found the keys to get out of jail, even if those keys were left lying around by referee César Muñiz Fernández, who accidentally got in the way of Puñal on a counter attack, gifting the ball to Barcelona, indirectly causing the passage of play that led to the equalizer.
The five in last week's match took the number of goals scored to 28 in the last seven matches, these two teams like to score goals against one another, for that form to continue it's over 3.5 goals at 2.00. The fact that neither side has kept a clean sheet in their opening three matches means for both teams to score it's a pretty obvious 1.38.
It becomes a little tiresome to suggest Lionel Messi to notch another goal, but when Barcelona play well he scores and when they don't he still scores. Another brace on Sunday saw him bag his fourth and fifth of the season, in just three games. To score at any time he is 1.70 or to open the floodgates he's at 3.50.
Barcelona are looking a little sharper at the moment, despite the weekend's performance, but Mourinho will demand a response to Real Madrid's underwhelming start to the season. The arrival of Luka Modrić will add competition and versatility to Real's already impressive line-up, some players might be playing for their starting positions, especially the two Germans. A score draw is probably your best bet 3.55, with Barça winning the tie on aggregate at 1.43.
Over the course of last season both teams struggled when it came to defending corners and free kicks. The early evidence so far suggests that this is likely to continue. It might be worth a look at someone to score with a header at some generous prices, Benzema at 9.00, Busquets at 20.00, Piqué at 15.00 or Ronaldo to repeat last week's feat at 5.00.
Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona (10.50.)