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Jon Riley 28th Apr 2010 - 13:07

Can Rafa's Reds Kop a Final Place?

Atletico Madrid travel to Anfield with a slender one goal lead following their 1-0 first leg Europa League victory over Liverpool.

Diego Forlan's scrappy 9th minute effort at the Vicente Calderon gives Atletico the slight advantage ahead of their second-leg trip to Merseyside.

With Liverpool's talisman Fernando Torres once again missing from action the pressure has risen on the shoulders of the Reds captain Steven Gerrard. With his team on course for their worst league finish in more than a decade, Gerrard must ensure that they end a miserable season on a European high in Hamburg.

After 50 minutes at Turf Moor on Sunday, Gerrard, the Liverpool saviour on so many occasions throughout his career, grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. His quickfire double set the Reds on the way to a 4-0 victory.

Confidence must now be high that they can end the season with some silverware, thanks massively to the England International and Liverpool skipper. He is 5/1 to break the deadlock at Anfield and 5/4 to score anytime.

Atletico Madrid have also had a disappointing season domestically and are lying tenth in the league though they had a fine 3-1 victory at home against Tenerife on Sunday. Before that, their league form had been a little flakey with three defeats on the trot against Espanyol, Xerez and Villarreal.

The Spaniards are looking for a cup double this season having already qualified for the Copa Del Rey final.

Their victory in the first leg against Liverpool was only their second in Europe all season and they'll be looking to their dynamic pair of Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero to fire in a vital away goal.

Sergio ‘Kun' Aguero is priced at 15/2 to open the scoring but the popular bet could be for ex-Manchester United striker Diego Forlan to hit the back of the net first. He is 7/1 to score first and 2/1 anytime.

The Uruguayan may not have the fondest memories of his time in England but a definite highlight was a 2-0 victory at Anfield in which he scored both goals. A similar performance in front of the famous Kop would be cheered just as loudly in Manchester as in Madrid given the intense rivalry between United and Liverpool.

The match betting for this game sees the home side installed as big favourites to win in 90 minutes, priced at 4/7. This is the third round in succession that the Reds have trailed following the first leg, triumphing against both Lille and Benfica.

The Madrid team were good value for their 1-0 first leg win at the Vicente Calderon and can be backed at 9/2 to defeat their English opponents once again.

Interestingly, given the lacklustre Liverpool performance in Madrid and the fact that their star striker is injured they are not the favourites to progress through to the Europa League final. They are only evens to qualify where as the visitors Atletico are 8/11.

Looking into this game I would recommend a Liverpool victory. I feel that the 4/7 doesn't offer enough value though and instead I will be backing the double result Draw/Liverpool which has odds of 10/3.

Another market which is teasing me to have a bet is the First Scorers Coupled market. Steven Gerrard or Diego Forlan to score first has combined odds of 5/2. With these two players the most likely to spark the game into life I feel that this is more than a generous price.




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