With Atletico Madrid in clear and present danger of going out of the Champions League at home to Bayer Leverkusen unless they can start scoring again, now is the time for pugnacious Los Colchoneros coach Diego Simeone to send out the bat signal for Mario Mandzukic.
The Croatia number nine has proved an impeccable replacement for Diego Costa since signing from FC Bayern Munchen last summer, scoring 20 times for the La Liga champions so far this term, including 12 in just 21 starts in the Spanish top flight and twice as many as Atleti’s next top marksman in the Champions League.
Despite these impressive stats, Mandzukic was dropped to the bench for Atleti’s next couple of fixtures after failing to find the net in the 1-0 loss to Roger Schmidt’s side at the BayArena three weeks ago.
He was then suspended for the 2013/14 Champions League finalists’ last match away to Espanyol in La Liga, when Simeone’s side drew their third game in a row, two of which have seen no goals.
Sky Sports believes Mandzukic’s marginalisation, which has clearly come about at least in part to accommodate the manager’s former Atleti teammate Fernando Torres up front, will lead to his departure from the Spanish capital at the end of term, with Juventus thought to be interested alongside a raft of Premier League clubs.
He’s still at the Vicente Calderon now though, meaning Simeone must bring Mandzukic in from the cold in order to give the club the best chance of Champions League progression.
If he starts, 6/4 about Mandzukic to trouble the scoreboard operator at any time in the 90 will look very big, considering he has done so four times in his last couple of appearances in the competition in front of the faithful.
The 28-year-old nabbed a hat-trick in the 4-0 throttling of Malmo last time out at home in Europe, so 25/1 on offer about another three or more against the Bundesliga outfit also seems solid, although with none of his quintet of Champions League strikes so far this term opening the scoring, 15/4 on him breaking the deadlock should be swerved.
For new customers to bwin, the best place for your £30 free bet may be Mandzukic to score at any time at 6/4, which could herald £45 in profit if he finds his way back into the team and onto the scoresheet.