Atletico Madrid must belie poor away form for Bayer Leverkusen battle
Although 2014 Champions League runners-up Atletico Madrid have recorded just one away win in 2015 so far, Coral make them 6/4 favourites to take Bayer Leverkusen back to the Vicente Calderon with a lead. Atletico also feature in an enhanced 11/2 matchday special for victory with both teams being on target (max stake £20).
El Clasico rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona have both stopped Diego Simeone’s side. Atleti lost a long trip to peripheral, provincial club Celta Vigo, but are still odds-on 4/11 favourites to qualify from this tie.
This should be a good sign for Bundesliga boys Leverkusen, then; only they have won once at home since October. Based on that stat, it’s easy to see why they are 21/10 outsiders for victory and 11/5 to advance. A draw is the same price, and tempting with Roger Schmidt’s side sharing the spoils in half of their last 10 matches.
Bayer have shipped nine goals in their previous three and, with Omer Toprak serving a suspension here, Atletico frontman Mario Mandzukic will be licking his lips. The Croatia striker, who spent four years in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich, has scored in each of the last three seasons against Leverkusen.
A shaky home defence, coupled with this scoring stat and him hitting a hat-trick in the Champions League group stage, makes Mandzukic outstanding value in the anytime market at 7/4.
Backed up by forward-thinking midfielder Raul Garcia (11/4), France attacker Antoine Griezmann (also 11/4), who has six in as many matches, and Fernando Torres (2/1), Atleti have options to worry Schmidt.
It’s not just the Spanish side that possess a forward threat, though. Bayer forward Son Heung-Min hit a hat-trick in an agonising 5-4 Leverkusen loss to Wolfsburg last time out at home. A repeat performance from the South Korea star here seems fanciful at 28/1, but Son is a 6/4 anytime shout.
Schmidt shall have to decide whether Switzerland striker Josip Drmic or long-serving Stefan Kiessling (both 15/8 to score here) leads the line. The former grabbed an earlier opener in the 2-2 draw at Augsburg as Bayer warmed up for the resumption of their European campaign.
Leverkusen can count on support from breakout talent Karim Bellarabi (11/4 in the anytime market) and talented Turkey international Hakan Calhanoglu (5/1), who has been tipped to outshine compatriot and Atletico opposite number Ardan Turan here.
Those odds for a draw at 21/10 do look appealing, but this looks to be one where the spoils will be shared with both teams scoring. Both previous head-to-heads have finished 1-1, so a 5/1 price for that again is a worthy investment.