WEDNESDAY night sees Madrid rivals Atletico and Real lock horns in the UEFA Super Cup from Tallinn. Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) highlights the best betting opportunities.
Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid | Wednesday 15th August 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
For the first time ever the UEFA Super Cup is a cross-city derby as Champions League winners Real Madrid meet neighbours Europa League champions Atletico Madrid for the European curtain-raiser in Tallinn on Wednesday night.
It’s the fourth all-Spanish Super Cup showdown in five years with La Liga clubs dominating the trophy over the last decade, collecting eight of the past nine titles. Each of the most recent five renewals have been won by the defending Champions League winners with Los Blancos triumphing in three of the last four seasons.
All change at Real
Real Madrid are 8/5 (Betway) favourites to retain their crown but a lot has happened since the duo won their respective continental crowns. The World Cup has been and gone, while Los Blancos have started a new era without all-time leading goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo and head coach Zinedine Zidane.
Zidane abruptly left soon after clinching a third successive Champions League title and the subsequent appointment of Julen Lopetegui caused unnecessary controversy on the eve of the World Cup. Lopetegui was swiftly sacked from the Spain national team and La Roja’s performances plummeted thereafter.
Many pointed the blame at Lopetegui and president Florentino Perez but Real have brushed off criticism and arrive determined to dominate the Spanish football scene once more. After a lethargic friendly loss to Manchester United, Los Blancos have dispatched Juventus, Roma and Milan with minimal fuss.
The early signs suggest Lopetegui will look to combine possession with energetic high-pressing. The former Porto boss has used a 4-2-3-1 in pre-season and may opt for a similar formula here with Karim Benzema leading the line ahead of Gareth Bale, Isco and Marco Asensio.
New signing Thibaut Courtois is unlikely to figure with Keylor Navas keeping hold of the gloves for now. Meanwhile, Luka Modric started Madrid's final warm up match on Saturday on the bench and isn’t expected to be rushed back in a starting role this midweek.
Simeone’s reinforced Atleti squad
Domestically, Real Madrid have struggled against Atletico Madrid in recent years with just one win in their last 10 La Liga meetings, although Los Blancos did knock Los Colchoneros out of the Champions League in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Nevertheless, Simeone's side remain a tough adversary for their richer rivals.
Atletico have perhaps the clearest identity of any of Europe's elite sides, and there will be no straying from Simeone's successful formula of ruthlessly organised defending and efficient counter-attacking in 2018/19. Holding on to Antoine Griezmann was a coup and Los Rojiblancos have reinforced their squad.
The additions of Rodri, Gelson Martins and Thomas Lemar are an indicator of the club's elevation to the European heavyweight division. Decent squad players have also been added in Santiago Arias and Nikola Kalinic. Rodri, Kalinic and Lemar are in contention for a starting XI berth in Estonia.
Simeone fielded a practically full-strength side last weekend in Atletico’s final friendly but Griezmann is expected to come into the side despite only retuning to training just over a week ago. So the 11/5 (Marathon) underdogs are not expected to be shorn of quality or match winners.
The betting angle
Real Madrid have delivered Over 2.5 Goals profit in all bar one of their last 26 Champions League outings and with five of the past six Super Cups following suit, there’s plenty of reason to believe 6/5 (BetBright) quotes on a repeat are a little too big for Wednesday’s encounter.
However, games between these two neighbours aren’t often thrillers. Last season their two La Liga tussles ended all square (1-1 and 0-0) and followed a recent theme for Under 2.5 Goals – eight of the past 11 Madrid derbies have produced no more than two goals with only four seeing both sides score.
I want to keep Atletico onside and I’m going to do so alongside a goals-based angle with Bet365’s Bet Builder. Here we can support the Atleti double chance and Over 1 Goal angle at 6/5 quotes, meaning should Simeone’s side avoid defeat in a game featuring two or more goals we’ll be paid out. I'm cool with that.
Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid – Atletico Madrid double chance & Over 1 goal (6/5 Bet365)