Since the beginning of the season I have fancied Real Madrid for the Champion’s League and I’m not going to alter that assessment now.
We don’t need a recap of Real’s qualities, but there are also plenty of other elements which I feel make them my favourites to be crowned kings of the continent.
Their La Liga title has gone, and Jose Mourinho soon will be too, but whereas many other clubs would be reeling from those losses, Madrid will prosper.
The gap between them and Barcelona in the Primera Division means Madrid can solely focus on ending an eleven-year European Cup drought, and it’s just like the Special One to go out all guns blazing by guiding his side to club football’s most prestigious prize.
They’ve also had a bit of that key, final ingredient – luck. Los Blancos were well outplayed by the Reds of Manchester United in the last round until Nani’s dubious dismissal swung the tie, and after edging through they were dealt a plum quarter-final draw against Galatasaray.
The Turkish champions and current league leaders are no mugs, and the January acquisitions of Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder added quality to an already talented pool, but there’s no way I can see them causing an upset and humbling the mighty Madrid.
bwin’s bookies are with me on this and make Los Galacticos big 3/20 favourites to win tonight’s first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, and they are also a tiny 2/25 to progress to the next stage.
Like me, bwin’s 3way football betting market offers little encouragement for Gala, and they’re 13/1 to win this evening, with the draw at 27/4. The price of 13/2 for them to make it to the next stage pretty much sums up my feelings too.
You’ve got to go back 40 games to January 2012 to find the last time Madrid were beaten on their own patch – and that was to Barcelona. Indeed, you have to add another 16 games onto that sequence through to April 2011 to find the last defeat at home against anyone other than Barca, and in the Champions League it’s 17 games excluding their arch rivals.
All of which means it’ll take a herculean effort by Galatasaray to get anything tonight and a result for them will be to keep the tie alive for the return leg next week.
But I don’t think Fatih Terim and his team will come to stitch it and that should make for an open game with plenty of goals.
Madrid average just short of three strikes per outing at the Bernabeu under Mourinho, but they also let their fair share in.
In Burak Yilmaz, Drogba and Sneijder, Gala have enough about them to penetrate a porous Real defence and sneaking that all important away goal will be the best method of keeping things interesting in Turkey.
I think they will do and both teams to score in the match is relatively safe at 18/25, but there’s much more around to make you better money.
I’m leaning towards a decent Madrid win albeit with at least one going in down the other end, so straight away allow me to draw your eyes to Madrid with over 3.5 goals in the game at 19/20.
Real are just over odds-on at 11/10 to win both halves, and they’re a sound 1/2 to score in both halves.
I reckon Madrid to win both halves is a tidy little earner, and if you use your free £20 bet courtesy of bwin on that punt, you will pull yourself in a cozy £42.
Such are the odds stacked in the hosts’ favour, you have to dig deep to find anything more lengthy, but you can have any side to win by exactly two goals at 5/2 and by exactly three at 333/100. No prizes for guessing which team I think will win in both of those scenarios.
But given what I said about Galatasaray scoring, a more tasty tip is the multiple correct score market and you can have it at 5/2 that Madrid win either 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1.
There’s plenty of interest in the goalscorers market and alongside the usual shout of two or more for Cristiano Ronaldo at 11/10, Didier Drogba is a massive 13/1 to score first and Burak Yilmaz 13/4 to score at any time.
Last but not least I’m going to go out on a limb with a scorecast, and Karim Benzema to score first in a 3-1 Madrid win is cracking value at 28/1.
Those suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg and bwin have an astounding 290+ markets on tonight’s tie, so if you fancy a dabble on anything from throw-ins to corners, yellow cards to missed penalties, then have a butchers at the full range by following this link.
If you want to be kept in the loop, get hold of me on Twitter @bainesyDiego10 for some more tips.