As much as I would love to be able to say that the Champions League quarter-final between Galatasaray and Real Madrid remains in the balance, the truth is that this is one tie that is already over following last week’s first leg.
An eventually comprehensive 3-0 win at the Bernabeu has all but put Jose Mourinho’s side through and what could have been an extremely awkward and potentially dangerous (from a footballing point of view) trip to Turkey has become nothing more than an inconvenience they must negotiate.
Gala played fairly well in parts last Wednesday, but some naivety from the Turkish champions seemed to be their undoing. In their desperation to get an away goal, Fatih Terim’s side left themselves far too open at the back and with Cristiano Ronaldo et al so good on the break, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
The Turks’ desire to get on the scoresheet was both laudable and understandable. But without securing that crucial strike, it is impossible to see how Gala can possibly get back into this match against a side as good as Madrid.
With their La Liga title already relinquished to Barcelona, it has been all eyes on the Champions League for a club that is seeking their 10th win in the tournament – not to mention a manager that is looking to win his third European Cup with as many clubs, a record that really would make him The Special One.
And having rested players for Saturday’s 5-1 win over Levante, it is clear that Mourinho is determined to make this return leg in Istanbul as easy as possible.
For me, there is only one winner: Madrid are 57/100 to win and that is a bet that is going to land, much preferable to the 4/1 about Galatasaray or the 13/4 on the draw.
But to get a bit of value, take the 11/10 on an away win that sees over 2.5 goals.
Gala have enough about them to get a goal against a Madrid defence that has kept just two clean sheets in 16 away games, but the firepower of Mourinho’s men is always likely to be too much for the limited Turkish backline and I expect them to notch a couple of goals to silence the intimidating home crowd.
Real are in good form, unbeaten in 12 games, winning ten of them, which includes victories at Old Trafford against Manchester United and two wins over arch rivals Barcelona.
All ten of those victories have seen at least three goals scored in total, and I see no reason why the goals won’t fly in at both ends like they have tended to all year: Madrid’s La Liga fixtures are averaging 3.53 goals per match.
Mourinho will not want to give Gala any encouragement, and I see professional Madrid getting the job done. The 57/100 is fine by me, but 11/10 on an away win and over 2.5 goals could be a more profitable play.