CSKA Moscow will be hoping that the weather proves a leveller when they host Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie this evening.
The Spanish side are in ominously good form ahead of the game with six wins out of six in the Champions League so far this season.
They are in rude health domestically as well: ten points clear in La Liga having won 18 of their last 19 games, defending champions Barcelona have been left trailing in their wake, even if the Catalans have proved capable of beating los Blancos when they go head-to-head.
Eighteen of the Spanish side’s last 21 games have featured at least three goals.
And having won 12 of their last 13 away games in all competitions, it is no surprise to see Real installed as short favourites to beat CSKA this evening, despite conceding home advantage to the Russian side.
Jose Mourinho’s men are priced at 7/20 to establish a first leg lead at Stadion Luzhniki in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, leaving CSKA at 15/4 and a draw at 15/2.
CSKA’s chances are further reduced by the fact that this is their first competitive match since December 7th as their domestic league is still on its winter hiatus.
Nevertheless, there is one factor working to their advantage: with temperatures expected to be around -10 degrees C, CSKA players could exploit the Real squad’s lack of experience of playing in freezing temperatures.
But with Mourinho twice taking a team to Russia for a game against CSKA and winning both, Real are sure to be well prepared.
As such, the Russian winter is unlikely to be enough to scupper Real’s chances of victory, particularly as CSKA’s recent European record at Stadion Luzhniki is far from impressive – the Army Men lost two of their three home games in the group stages of this season’s competition.
That said, with odds of 7/20 on a Real win offering punters only modest returns when using their £25 free bet for joining bwin.com, it could be worth looking to other markets.
One option would be to back a Real Madrid win to nil at 11/10.
After all, they have won without conceding in five of their six Champions League games to date this season, while CSKA failed to score in two of their last three Group B games, one of which was a 2-0 home defeat to Lille.
A successful £25 free bet on Real to beat CSKA to nil would return £52.50, with the free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.
One final way to increase returns would be to bet on a Real win with over 2.5 goals at odds of 21/20.
This looks a good option considering 18 of the Spanish side’s last 21 games have featured at least three goals, while four of CSKA’s six Champions League group games fell into the over 2.5 goals bracket.
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