Despite being a two-time winner of the Champions League, Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is more prone to dwelling on his near-misses than the times when he actually landed the trophy.
He revisited the subject again this week in the build-up to his side’s semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich.
Giving a run-down of incidents of his hard luck in semi-finals, Mourinho mentioned the “goal that wasn’t a goal” (against Liverpool in 2005), a penalty shoot-out defeat to the Reds in 2007 and the supposedly favourable treatment given to Barcelona in last year’s last-four meeting between the two Spanish giants.
The reason for Mourinho taking a trip down memory lane? He believes Bayern’s first goal in their 2-1 first leg victory over Real – scored by Franck Ribery – should have been ruled out for offside.
However, Bayern’s Luiz Gustavo, who was standing behind the last line of defence, was ruled passive.
But if punters are preparing to bet on Bayern Munich on the basis that Mourinho appears to be readying his excuses already, it could be worth taking a minute to reconsider – even if bwin are offering market-leading odds of 3/2 on the German side making it through to face Chelsea in the final.
As Mourinho pointed out, Real’s away goal at the Allianz Arena last week means Real hardly need to perform miracles to make it through.
A 1-0, 2-0 or 3-1 victory would be enough, while another 2-1 scoreline would see the game go to extra time.
Crucially, Real look to have the firepower to secure the win and their performance against Barcelona on Saturday also showed they have the defensive wherewithal to keep Bayern quiet at the other end.
The wise head of Mourinho will be crucial here, too, as he will be at pains to ensure that Madrid strike the right balance between attack and defence – something which Barca failed to do last night, when two goals on the break from Chelsea ended the Catalan side’s hopes of retaining their Champions League trophy.
Of course, a bet on Bayern remains tempting given those market-leading odds and the fact that the German side are underdogs despite holding a first leg lead.
They were good value for that lead, too – despite Mourinho’s protestations – and will be far more confident of making it through to the final than Chelsea were ahead of their game against Barca yesterday.
And with the speed and trickery of Arjen Robben and Ribery to call upon, along with the deadly finishing of Mario Gomez, Bayern are likely to be a handful on the break and their odds of 11/25 on at least one goal look a touch long.
A bet on Bayern remains tempting given those market-leading odds and the fact that the German side are underdogs despite holding a first leg lead.
Indeed, it could even be worth betting on Bayern to catch Real cold and score the first goal at odds of 39/20.
This looks to be a great betting opportunity given Los Blancos are 11/25 favourites in this market yet Bayern have scored twice as many first half goals than they have in the second half in the Champions League this season.
Nevertheless, even if Bayern do score early on there is good reason why Real are odds-on favourites to make it through to the final at 1/2 and the same price to win on the night in bwin’s 3Way football betting market (with a draw at 15/4 and an away success at 9/2).
Real have won all five of their Champions League home matches this season, while only Barca have stopped them from winning a home game in Europe’s elite club competition in the last two years.
Crucially, all nine of their victories during this time have come by way of scorelines which would see them through against Bayern, with teams beaten including Tottenham (4-0) and AC Milan (2-0).
Meanwhile, Bayern have won only one of their last four Champions League away games, with this run including defeats to Basel and Manchester City and a draw against Napoli.
And with Real coming into the game on a high having defeated Barca in Saturday’s Clasico and all but sealed La Liga title in the process, they remain the best bets to set up a meeting with Chelsea in the final.
But with odds of 1/2 on a Real victory on the night and on qualification for the May showpiece, there isn’t much appeal in simply betting on Los Blancos making it through.
Where there does look to be value is having a punt on Real to score the most goals between half time and 60 minutes at odds of 11/5.
As previously mentioned, Bayern have proved more likely to score in the first half in the Champions League so far this season and have only scored once in the 15 minutes after the interval.
For Real, this is their joint-most productive period, with seven goals scored, and they are also more likely to grab an all-important goal after the interval than before the break judging by their performances so far this season.
Mesut Ozil also scored for Real against Bayern in the first leg during this time, making those odds of 11/5 well worth taking advantage of.
But for a safer bet, back Real to use home advantage to win by at least two goals in the handicap market at odds of 6/5, thereby ensuring that Mourinho has no cause to put this year’s semi-final along with his catalogue of hard luck stories.
With Real on the crest of a wave, not even a first leg lead can be expected to stop the Special One becoming the first man to win the Champions League with three different clubs, and prepare yourself to see him do it in style.
Real Madrid to score the most goals between half time and 60 minutes @ 23/10
Real to win by at least two goals @ 6/5
Bayern Munich to score the first goal @ 39/20
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