Jose Mourinho he is the Special One
Real Madrid once again face Barcelona but this time in a Champions League semi-final. Barcelona may be on-course for a third straight league title but Real have found some form and they will go into the match as Copa del Rey champions.
Mourinho will be attempting to win Europe's most prestigious trophies with his third club. He has previously led Porto and Inter to European glory. Real made changes at the weekend and destroyed Valencia 6-3 and most of the players head into the match fresh.
Barcelona are 4/9 to qualify and Real are 13/8. Mourinho will not change his football philosophy to beat Barcelona, he will make the players sit back but he will attempt to stifle Barcelona's attacking style of play and hit them on the break.
Real are 7/4 to win in ninety minutes, the draw is 19/10 and the away win is 9/5. Real will be without Khedira and Carvalho whilst Barcelona will have a makeshift defence. Barcelona are struggling for a natural left-back for the clash and it looks likely that either Mascherano or Busquets will play in defence.
The Copa del Rey Final may have been short of goals but that should be reversed at the Bernabeu. Real can take advantage of Barcelona's defensive crisis and over 2.5 goals is even money.
Real will also have to contain the attacking threat of Villa, Messi and Iniesta without Khedira, it is a good chance for Lassana to prove he is capable of containing the best.
One of the Match Winner specials is 5/1 for both Ronaldo and Messi to score anytime. Both teams have immense squads but they are missing key players, Ronaldo and Messi can both find the net in a high-scoring match.
Both teams to score is 7/10 but I fancy a small punt on Alonso to score the first at 25/1. That is a big price for a midfielder and he will play further up the pitch at in this clash. He is the brains of Real Madrid and he will compete in the midfield alongside Diarra and Pepe. He will be pushed forward and he has a cracking shot from distance.
It is 11/8 for two or three yellow cards to be awarded to Real, it is only the first leg and the players will be told to behave by Mourinho with a potential final and a trip to Camp Nou top come. Real always seem to get a man sent-off against Barca but that can change in this tie.
They should find themselves in the ascendancy and I expect eleven men to walk off the pitch for Real after ninety minutes. With the likes of Ramos and Lassana playing, a few cards may be awarded but don't expect a dirty match this leg, there is another 90 minutes of football.
The 13/8 for Real Madrid looks too big to me and you will rarely see that price for a Real team to win in ninety minutes at the Bernabeu. Real are in-form and the players are responding to Mourinho and his style of play. They seem to have a siege mentality and they are not the same side that got destroyed by Barcelona earlier this season.