Real Madrid vs Liverpool| Tuesday 6th April 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Despite coming just after the Easter weekend Liverpool find themselves in the same position as many children up and down the country from days before – with all their eggs in one basket.
An exit from the EFL Cup on penalties to Arsenal – considered meagrely a surprising blip after a 100% record in the opening four games of the season. A fourth-round exit to arch rivals Manchester United extinguished FA Cup hopes. A hugely disappointing defence of their long-awaited 19th English league title – sitting a distant 25 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.
All of which leaves the UCL as the final remaining hope for the addition of more silverware to the Anfield trophy cabinet this season and a recent upturn of form, most recently seeing an impressive 3-0 dismantling of Arsenal at the Emirates, actually sees Jurgen Klopp’s side come in to this Quarter Final as 17/10 favourites.
The absent Sergio Ramos is, as always, a huge miss for Los Blancos but in my book not enough to make them underdogs for this first leg tie and the 7/4 on offer with Unibet is just too good to pass up.
Zinedine Zidane’s men are a big game team. Swatting Atalanta aside in both legs to secure a 4-1 aggregate triumph when many thought they were vulnerable, beating Serie A champions elect Inter Milan home and away in the group stages of this competition, even the win over Monchengladbach in the final game where a defeat could have eliminated them from the tournament and of course the 3-1 victory at Camp Nou in El Clasico part uno in late October are all perfect examples this season.
The weekend 2-0 win over Eibar saw Real Madrid extend their unbeaten run to 11 matches, winning nine and was their first clean sheet in six and although the Reds are in fine form away from home, winning seven of their last eight matches, as well as boasting an unbeaten record on their travels in the Champions League this season, winning four of five matches I am taking a chance on the home side taking a narrow win in to next week’s second leg.
Those of you who have seen my Bet of the Day will already be well versed on Karim Benzema’s stats who is also another reason I am siding with the Spanish side to win this tie.
Benzema is in the form of his life with his strike against Eibar at the weekend seeing him bag a ninth goal from his last seven starts in which he has scored in every single one and I was tempted with the 6/4 on offer from Unibet for him to make it eight here in this clash at the Alfredo di Stéfano Stadium. But having decided to put his shots up as my strongest bet of the day I am opting out of being another all eggs in what basket statistic.
Instead, I am looking at one of his team mates whom I have had success with on several occasions when keeping him onside – Carlos Henrique Jose Francisco Venancio Casimiro.
Casemiro to you and me is another one of those big game players that seems to be there with a vital contribution when his side needs it most.
The Brazilian has a respectable but not overly eye-catching six goals to his name across all competitions this season, from a total of 43 shots of which 10 have been on target but his output since the beginning of February has really increased.
In his 10 appearances in that window of time 29-year-old has had 26 shots with five hitting the target, not bad at all for a defensive midfielder – and in his last UCL appearance, the first leg against Atalanta he managed three shots with one on target.
With inspirational leader Ramos as already mentioned missing from this match it is likely Casemiro will be one of the main targets from set pieces and it may surprise you to discover he tops the charts for Madrid in aerial duals won according to whoscored.com stats, with his 85 some 23 more than closest rival Raphael Varane who in turn has more than double the 30 chalked up by the third placed Ramos.
With this in mind I am prepared to split a unit between two shot on target plays with Paddy Power. The 11/4 about a shot on target of any kind looks great value given the output outlined above and with Liverpool still potentially vulnerable aerially at set pieces in the continued absence of Virgil van Dijk.
Scroll down the long list of #WhatOddsPaddy – Shots On Target Specials and you will see Casemiro priced at 10/1 for a headed shot on target which is the second play.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool – Real Madrid to win (7/4 Unibet)
Real Madrid vs Liverpool – Casemiro to have 1 or more shots on target (11/4 Paddy Power)
Real Madrid vs Liverpool – Casemiro to have 1 or more headed shots on target (10/1 Paddy Power)