Depleted Atletico in for another Real hiding in Copa del Rey
Atletico Madrid go into this Copa del Rey semi-final against city rivals Real feeling somewhat despondent following their 3-0 first-leg defeat as well as the most recent 2-0 away league loss to Almeria.
Diego Simeone’s side were in great form prior to those two games and were even top of La Liga. They still sit equal on points with Real and reigning champions Barcelona, but their hopes of winning a trophy this season seem be slipping away.
Turkish winger Arda Turan still has hopes of his side turning the 3-0 deficit around, however, as he is desperate to prevent a season slump.
He said in the Spanish press: “We did not deserve the result at the Bernabeu. But we are Atletico and we never throw a game. We’ll give our all in the second leg.
“The season has been good but the most important thing is to finish in the strongest way possible. We will continue doing our best to achieve the club’s objectives.”
It is that spirit that could possibly spark an incredible turnaround, but with odds of 125/1 to get a shock 4-0 victory, understandably that feat seems highly unlikely.
Despite that positivity, Atletico find themselves short of a number of key player due to injury, with the likes of star forward Diego Costa, keeper Thibaut Courtois, David Villa, Filipe Luis and Tiago all sidelined. Manchester United target Koke, however, returns after his league suspension.
A finish from forward Jese Rodriquez (9/4 to score again at anytime), sandwiched between two own-goals on February 5th, saw Spanish giants Real ensure a fantastic advantage, and it really does seem impossible that they will not make it through to the cup final.
Cristiano Ronaldo (evens to score anytime) could feature as his current suspension does not affect Copa games, while Gareth Bale (15/8) made a goal-scoring return from injury in the 4-2 victory over Villarreal in the league.
Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that he will definitely make one change at least to his usual line-up, with French centre back Raphael Varane coming in to replace one of Sergio Ramos or Pepe – as the latter duo are both one yellow card away from missing the potential final.
The two sides face a league clash on March 1st, so although Atletico may not qualify for the Copa final, they will still want to win the match as a confidence booster to try and finish first in the Spanish top-flight for the first time since 1996.
One interesting bet that Coral are offering is the 11/5 chance that the home side will win the game (but not the tie). But with Atleti’s depleted-looking squad and no real fire-power on offer, back Real to win 1-0 (15/2), 2-0 (10/1), 3-0 (20/1) or perhaps even higher.