CAN Real Madrid overcome their hoodoo against city rivals Atletico and reach the Champions League semi-finals? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the betting.
Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid | Wednesday 19.45 | Sky Sports 5
Bloody? Check. Squabbles? Check. Controversy? Check. Last week’s Madrid derby ticked all the bingo boxes as we were treated to a gritty sparring session at the Vicente Calderon. Neither team managed to grab an all-important goal and so we head to the Santiago Bernabéu for what promises to be another bruising battle.
Atletico continued their unbeaten run against their city rivals (W4-D3-L0) this season but there was no doubt which team looked the more likely. Jan Oblak was forced into a number of first-half saves to keep Real at bay in what was a surprisingly timid display from Wednesday night’s hosts.
Gareth Bale missed the best opportunity for the defending champions and I just get the feeling Los Blancos may have missed their opportunity. The game could (and probably should) have been killed in that first 45 minutes but in the following few days, Carlo Ancelotti’s team were dealt a number of big injury blows.
Bale hobbled off after five minutes of Saturday’s La Liga clash with Malaga and was followed on the sidelines by Luka Modric. Neither player will be fit enough to participate whilst Karim Benzema and Fábio Coentrão are struggling to shake-off niggles. Throw in Marcelo’s suspension and Real have problems. Modric’s absence could be pivotal.
When the diminutive Croatian was injured earlier on this year, Los Blancos’ dramatically lost form, balance and flow. Ancelotti deployed a 4-4-2 formation at the weekend and could do so again but the loss of Modric just can’t be overstated in the Madrid midfield.
Atletico arrive on the back of a 2-1 success at Deportivo. Antoine Griezmann was again the man of the moment and he’ll be hoping for more success this time around, playing in the hole behind Mario Mandzukic. But if Simeone’s warriors are to progress, the Argentine will need another huge performance from his defence.
The Mattress Makers have kept clean sheets in seven of their last eight Champions League ties and suffered just two defeats in 22 games in this competition. Mario Suarez is their only absentee and it’s worth noting that in five of their previous six trips to the Bernabéu, Atleti would have picked up a good enough result to progress.
Can they repeat that trick on Wednesday night? Of course they can. If Real could pick the same XI that featured in the first leg, I’d be all over the 20/23 (Sportingbet). But they don’t. Simeone’s hosts are wise enough, intelligent enough, talented enough and stronger mentally than their more illustrious hosts and that’s why I’m willing to put my faith in Atletico +0.50 in the Asian Handicap market at 13/12 with BetVictor.
Taking this selection is the same as a bet on the Double Chance market but we’re getting a slightly better price. If Atletico avoid defeat in 90 minutes, we’ll have ourselves a winner. I’m happier taking slightly shorter odds than the To Qualify (23/17 888 Sport) market as it rules out the pain of a possible extra-time or penalties defeat for the visitors.
Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid – Atletico Madrid +0.50 Asian Handicap (13/12 BetVictor)