MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) is quoting Alan Partridge as he hunts down the best bets from the Champions League tie between Real Madrid and Schalke on Tuesday night.
Real Madrid v Schalke | Tuesday 19.45 | ITV1
“STOP GETTING BOND WRONG”! Alan Partridge at his best but in recent weeks I’ve been screaming at myself to ‘STOP GETTING REAL MADRID WRONG’. I’ve seen enough of the European champions this season to know exactly what’s wrong with them but yet I’m still seduced by the charm of backing the world’s most famous club, in some way or form.
At the weekend it was a Madrid win and Over 2.5 Goals. Well they failed to even score as they were deservedly beaten by a buoyant Athletic Bilbao at the new San Mames. Real didn’t net and they didn’t even seem to have an ideas on where or even how to get an equaliser. To rub salt into the wounds, 24 hours later their place at the top of La Liga was taken by bitter rivals Barcelona.
It’s the first time since 1st November that Carlo Ancelotti’s side are trailing in the title race and the Italian is now coming under increasing pressure as Los Blancos continue to toil in 2015. Memories of that remarkable 22-match winning streak to end 2014 have been banished with Real putting together just one decent display in this calendar year and even that only came in patches over Real Sociedad.
Luka Modric’s absence has certainly hampered the hosts and his return from injury will hand Madrid a big boost. But the Croat is only expected to start from the bench and while the balance of the side remains up for question, a lack of fluency has also been blamed for a return of just one goal in two La Liga fixtures.
Thankfully for Los Blancos, a visit from Schalke should offer relief. The graft was done in Gelsenkirchen as Madrid sauntered to a rather uninspiring 2-0 victory and without defeat at home in Europe since 2011, failure to qualify is unthinkable and near impossible.
Real have had the most shots and the most shots-on-target in this season’s competition and are chasing a record-breaking 11th consecutive Champions League win. In fact, they’ve come out on top in 19 of their last 21 European outings and have kept clean sheets in their last five continental clashes – their best run since 1998!
So how do we profit from what should be another routine result? I’ve plumped for the 7/10 from Betfair for Real Madrid to claim W-W double result honours. The Spaniards have scored 13 of their 18 Champions League goals before the half-time interval and a fast start would be just what the doctor ordered as they look to get their season back on track.
Schalke’s 3-1 success over Hoffenheim on Saturday was timely boost for Roberto Di Matteo who received fierce criticism for his tactics and team’s display as they were put to the sword by rivals Dortmund the previous weekend. That 3-0 derby reverse was unacceptable and frankly pathetic.
The Germans heve struggled on the road all season (W4-D2-L9) and can boast only one success on their travels in Europe from their past six away days (at Maribor). With 21 goals conceded in their past seven Champions League knockout games (D1-L6), it’s almost unfathomable to think they can escape the Bernabéu unscathed.
Getting a result on Tuesday night is difficult enough but Di Matteo must also do without up to nine possible first-teamers. Kevin-Prince Boateng, Julian Draxler , Jefferson Farfan, Ralf Fahrmann and Dennis Aogo are all out or facing late fitness tests leaving Schalke short on quality and shorn on available bodies.
Things could get a bit Michael Myers if a wounded Madrid fancy showing their bloodthirsty face for the first time in 2015. And I'm determined to have a front row seat for when things get ugly…
Real Madrid v Schalke – Real Madrid win-win double result (7/10 Betfair)