Real ready for enthralling European second leg clash with Atletico
Reigning Champions League victors Real Madrid are set to contest their Spanish capital Atletico rivals in a quarter-final second leg encounter at the Bernabeu.
A defiant Atleti outfit managed to hold Carlo Ancelotti’s holders to a goalless stalemate at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in the first leg, despite Real dominating proceedings and having plenty of chances to go in front.
The hosts, 16/5 with Coral to win and both teams to score, have gone seven Madrid derbies without a single victory following their last 0-0 draw, with Diego Simeone’s men rallying to four wins in those previous fixtures in all competitions.
Spanish champions Ateltico are 4/1 to overcome bitter rivals Real on their travels, having not been beaten at the Bernabeu since February last year, in a Copa del Rey clash. However, Real got back to winning ways with a recent 3-1 La Liga triumph over Malaga, with Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo rounding off the league victory with his 52nd strike of the season for club and country.
Although, the hosts’ latest win came at a cost, as a host of star names picked up injuries ahead of their crucial European encounter. Welsh winger Gareth Bale is set to miss out with a thigh strain, while Croatian playmaker Luka Modric is expected to be sidelined for six weeks with knee ligament problems. French forward Karim Benzema is also set to miss the action following a knee injury, and Brazil international full back Marcelo is unavailable because of suspension.
Atleti boss Simeone welcomed back towering targetman Mario Mandzukic to training recently, after the striker missed his side’s last league outing, but the visitors will be without the suspended Mario Suarez.
With Bale and Benzema out injured, the goalscoring burden will fall upon rampant Ronaldo, something the amazing attacker will relish on home soil. The magnificent marksman is a 7/4 chance to score and Real to win in 90 minutes.
At the other end, clinical Croatian Mandzukic is 11/4 to strike anytime in 90 minutes, having already netted three times against Real this season.
Los Blancos have only lost one of their last eight games against a Spanish team in European competition, though they will have to break their torrid derby spell in order to progress towards retaining the Champions League this year.