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Jonathan Cordingley 30th Aug 2010 - 16:18

Atletico Madrid v Sporting Gijon betting preview

In the first ever live on Sky video Monday night La Liga offering, Linear European Champions Atletico Madrid host Sporting Gijon at the Vicente Calderon in a tie that's not as straightforward as it looks on paper.

Atletico (1/2) must be given credit for comfortably defeating Rafa Benitez's Inter Milan, but If Mourinho was still the San Siro boss I would have put my account balance on the opposite result!

However, Jose's current charges, Atletico's city rivals Real, will need further assessment and sharper finishing before large punts are placed on them, but then that's a story for the next batch of previews (sadly two weeks away given the international break).

As my opening states, straightforward Is not the case tonight for a number of reasons: Sporting beat Atletico 1-0 on their own patch in a pre season friendly only two weeks ago, Atletico have always been unpredictable and usually start the season badly-they lost 3-0 away to Malaga in last season's opener-and the squad could have had a late night celebrating their Uefa Super Cup win in the casino's of Monaco on Friday night!

Atleti do have the advantage of opening their campaign at home this time, but with what line up given that they played on Friday night? How tired will the over 30 players like Forlan (10/3 to score first, 4/5 anytime) be?

For anyone interested in backing Atletico, the younger Kun Aguero (9/2 to score first, 6/5 anytime) should, theoretically, recover quicker than his Uruguayan World Cup Golden Ball winning colleague and would be my top pick in the goalscoring stakes.

Former Arsenal winger Jose Antonio Reyes (7/1 to score first, 2/1 anytime) was highly impressive at the end of last season, no doubt partly because he was reunited with Quique Sanchez Flores, his former boss at Benfica. Reyes is well under 30, scored the opener on Friday and is also worth consideration to net one again tonight.

Opponents Sporting (5/1) started last season extremely well, losing only twice in their first for 14 games-including an away win in Bilbao and a 0-0 draw at home to Real Madrid, a game they really should have won.

Gijon eventually faded, narrowly avoiding relegation. No doubt they would have been playing in the Segunda if not for such a good start.

Looking to help them get off to another great start will be new signing and former Rangers striker Nacho Novo (11/1 to score first, 4/1 anytime), a Spaniard who will, amazingly, be making his debut in the top Spanish division. I am not expecting much from him but will be interested to see how he plays nonetheless.

Sporting have brought former Villarreal defensive midfielder Eguren back to Spain after an unsuccessful stint at Italian side Lazio and he should add some steel to the midfield.

Besides former Barcelona defender Botia, former Atletico starlet Miguel De Las Cuevas (10/1 to score first, 7/2 anytime) is Sporting's best player and for those that buy into the former player usually comes back to score against his former employers factor, he represents a worthy punt for you.

Gambling is as much about the in-play as it is the pre-match for me, so I'm always prepared to make adjustments during the game if my initial prediction is wrong.

For now I'm avoiding the 90 minute and double result markets and will instead go for a very small pre match punt on 2-0 to Atletico. I've seriously contemplated that Atletico could get caught up in the party atmosphere, get complacent and go a goal down before recovering to win 2-1, but there is also credibility to 0-0 given the tiredness of Los Colchoneros. Unable to pick three scorelines I'll stick with my original choice of 2-0.

However, I am prepared to add a scorer to a scoreline for a ridiculous £1 long shot contingency bet of former Atletico and current Sporting midfielder Miguel (De Las Cuevas) to gatecrash the carnival atmosphere and score first before Atletico win 2-1. Priced at a massive 130/1!! You never know and it’s only a pound!

Worth a punt: Atletico 2-0 Sporting (13/2)

Tread carefully folks!


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