City pride at stake - Atletico v Real preview
With Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid now four points behind Barcelona in the Primera division title race and the club minimum expectancy set at one trophy per season, the Portuguese maverick must make sure his team progresses to the semi finals of the Copa del Rey tonight or likely finish the season with an empty trophy cabinet.
Of Course, Barca could drop points and Real could improve drastically between now and when they face Barca in the league again, but the cup is likely to be Los Blancos best chance of silverware and I stand by my pre season picks of Barca for the league and Real for the cup.
I also expect Barca to win the Champions league, and don't forget that if all goes to plan we will have a Copa del Rey Clasico on our hands. Denying Madrid's hated rivals, a team many call the best they have ever seen, a treble would give some seasonal satisfaction to all involved with Real Madrid.
For now Real must simply leave the partisan Vicente Calderon stadium of city rivals Atletico Madrid with a one goal defeat or better. Despite tonight's visitors looking poor when surprisingly drawing 1-1 away to Almeria last weekend, I'd give Atletico only a slim chance of progressing or even winning on the night.
Besides the fact that Real Madrid (8/11) have not lost to Atletico (7/2) since former Leeds and Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink played for Los Colchoneros 11 years ago, Ronaldo - having drawn a blank in Almeria - will be hungry to bag a couple to put the tie beyond doubt. To bag a brace, CR7 is priced at 11/4, while the anytime wincast is 21/20.
With two goals in his last two games is Atletico's Diego Forlan (15/2 to score first, 9/4 anytime). The World Cup Golden Ball winner confidently rounded the Mallorca keeper to give me a small return on the each way punt I took on him for Atleti's 3-0 home league defeat of the Islanders on Monday evening.
A pity Diego could not score first at the start of this week, but he did bag the opener in last week's first leg 3-1 away defeat to Real, so he's worth a punt to do so again tonight.
Like most cup games involving big teams I don't know exactly who will start tonight, but I'm certain that Forlan will and pretty sure that Ronaldo will be stood centre circle come kick off time.
I'd deem it highly likely that both teams will score (4/9) and that the game has over 2.5 goals (4/9) in it, but they are both understandably very short priced and I'm happy to bet purely on scorers.
Recommendation: Forlan, e/w first scorer (15/2)
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