Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid | Saturday 12th December 2020, 20:00 | La Liga TV
The high-pressure, massive games keep on coming for Zinedine Zidane and his team as this season’s first instalment of the eagerly-awaited Madrid derby takes centre-stage in La Liga this weekend.
I’m sure Zidane would have been looking to come into this game off the back of a meaningless Champions League fixture and with all key personal wrapped in cotton wool, rested and fresh to take on their cross city rivals.
That was most definitely not the case as a Karim Benzema brace helped his side avoid Champions League elimination with a 2-0 defeat of Borussia Monchengladbach, and possibly saved his manager’s job…for now.
The 32-year-old forward is in fantastic form with his midweek double meaning he has now scored a total of seven goals from his last seven games in all competitions.
The most impressive thing for me in that run has been the accuracy of his shooting – the unusually high total of seven shots he fired off on Wednesday saw four find the target and meant that he has hit the target on at least two occasions in all seven of those games with only twice (both games against Gladbach) taking on more than three attempts.
So, to get odds of 11/8 with SkyBet for that run to continue against a notoriously defensive team is a bet I have to take.
Another player caught my eye in the shots market and that is Lucas Vazquez, who has been doing a good job filling in at right back in recent games.
However, there is a chance Dani Carvajal, who was on the bench in midweek could be deemed fit enough for a start against Atletico, meaning a more advanced role for Lucas.
The 29-year-old demonstrated his attacking abilities in the win over Monchengladbach by recording an assist and also managing three shots, the highest return in his eight appearances in defence this season which has seen him try his luck once in three other games.
However, in his more natural advanced position, in which he has only played in on two occasions, he managed two shots at Villarreal and an impressive four in the trip to Inter Milan.
I’m taking the 9/4 on offer with Paddy Power for two or more Lucas Vazquez shots here, a bit of a chance in second guessing the team and formation but with the safety net of a cash out if you don’t like what you see when teams are announced at approximately 7pm.
Atletico to play for a point?
As I mentioned right at the top of the piece, this is a massive game – Atletico are in sensational form, unbeaten in the league sitting top and some six points clear of their hosts with a game in-hand.
Diego Simeone’s side have not been beaten in La Liga action since February, a 1-0 loss in this same fixture last season, an amazing run of 26 games which is a club record.
Would ‘El Cholo’ be happy to extend that run to 27 with a draw here at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium – I think he probably would!
Los Rojiblancos have conceded just two goals in their 10 league games so far this season, a loud statement that they are most definitely defending in a way in which their manager built his reputation.
Simeone will know all too well he hasn’t beaten Real in any of the last eight meetings (W0, D5, L3) but avoiding defeat will be a boost in attempting to secure Atleti’s first La Liga title since the 2013/14 season.
For those reasons I can’t ignore the possibility of Simeone taking what he came with and shutting up shop for a 0-0 draw – as always keep an own goal onside by playing the No Goalscorer bet which is 8/1 with Bet365 – same odds as the goalless draw.
We have a very well-known referee in charge in the form of Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz and in seasons gone by there would definitely have been a card bet of some description in this preview.
However, a card per-game average in La Liga this season of under four (18 yellows and one red from five games) for Lahoz added to a line set somewhere between six and seven cards shown means it is a market I will definitely be avoiding.
But for those fans of the feisty you can never go wrong with a sending off for the returning Sergio Ramos in a game, his first in the league since 8th November, which as outlined above has the potential to be frustrating for his team. Best odds available with Sky Bet or William Hill of 25/1.
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid – Karim Benzema 2+ Shots On Target (11/8 SkyBet)
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid – Lucas Vazquez 2 or more shots (9/4 Paddy Power)
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid – No Goalscorer (8/1 Bet365)