MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at Tuesday’s Champions League showdown between Atletico Madrid and PSV Eindhoven.
Atletico Madrid v PSV Eindhoven | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport 2
Atletico Madrid’s meeting with PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands three weeks ago was a forgettable 0-0 affair but the Spaniards can stamp their authority on this contest with a strong second leg showing to progress.
Having backed the capital club ante-post to win La Liga as well as the Champions League, my love affair with Diego Simeone’s side isn’t exactly a secret. So whilst disappointed with the low-risk nature of their display in Eindhoven, I’ve been overjoyed with their recent run since that showdown in late February.
Los Rojiblancos deservedly claimed Madrid derby honours in the Bernabeu, the first of four successive victories ‘to nil’ in which Antoine Griezmann has scored. The Mattress Makers have even scored at least three goals in each of their last fixtures – their best scoring streak for over a year.
Now I don’t expect Atletico to brush PSV aside in the same manner that Deportivo were swatted 3-0 on Saturday but it would be no surprise at all if Simeone’s charges churned out yet another clean sheet. That weekend win was their 19th La Liga shutout of the season and no side across Europe’s major leagues have shipped fewer league goals than the Atleti’s tally of 12 this term.
Goalkeeper Jan Oblak was called into action just one in the first leg duel and with the 2014 finalists having recorded clean sheets in 12 of their last 16 Champions League matches as well as 11 of their most recent 13 at the Vicente Calderon, counting on the hosts to repeat the feat appears the most obvious angle to take.
Since Simeone arrived in Madrid, Atleti have W11-D2-L1 of their 14 home Champions League ties, leaking in just three. This season, the hosts have suffered a solitary defeat at the Calderon and shipped just six goals – defensive stats that are just unparalleled across the continent.
Sure, PSV head to Spain having W17-D5-L0 in their last 22 with Phillip Cocu’s charges keeping their own sheets clean in six of their past seven games. And it’s worth noting too that the Dutch Eredivisie leaders have only leaked one goal in their last four Champions League games; a penalty against CSKA Moscow.
With star striker Luuk de Jong returning from suspension to give Eindhoven more of an aerial presence up front, the Dutch raiders and followers will fancy their chances of causing an upset.
However, PSV have W1-D2-L9 on their travels in this competition and stopper Jeroen Zoet has made more saves than any other goalkeeper among the teams left in this season's Champions League.
This second leg could follow the same themes of their Phillips Stadion battle and a tight, cautious chess match may follow but it’s hard not to fall for the hard-working Mattress Makers and I’d expect the hosts to squeeze out a reasonably comfortable but narrow victory.
I’ll have a solid wager on Atletico Madrid to win and Under 3.5 Goals at a very generous 4/5 thanks to Betway but I’m also going to take an incredibly rare venture into the Scorecast market and have a wee poke on the 14/1 that Griezmann scores first in a 2-0 Atletico Madrid victory for a bit of interest.
Atletico Madrid v PSV Eindhoven – Atletico Madrid to win and Under 3.5 Goals (4/5 Betway)
Atletico Madrid v PSV Eindhoven – Antoine Griezmann to score first and Atletico Madrid to win 2-0 (14/1 BetVictor)
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