Real Madrid survived a major scare in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 clash with Malaga last week but will only take a narrow lead into tonight’s return at La Rosaleda.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men went into the half-time interval at the Bernabeu two goals to the good after strikes from Sergio Sanchez and Martin Demichelis silenced the home crowd.
Furious Real boss Jose Mourinho made a triple substitution at the break and his players responded, with Sami Khedira, Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema all scoring in an eight-minute spell to give the hosts a 3-2 victory.
The slender nature of Los Blancos’ advantage means that Mourinho will again field a strong line-up, not dissimilar to the one which romped to a 5-1 triumph over Granada in La Liga at the weekend.
Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Coentrao are major doubts and Angel di Maria and Ricardo Carvalho will definitely miss out, but the in-form Benzema looks to have shaken off the knock he picked up against Granada and should start.
With Benzema and the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil set to feature, Real are the heavy 7/20 favourites in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, with the draw rated as a 4/1 shot and Malaga priced at 27/4 to register a win inside 90 minutes.
Real have managed a shut-out in two-thirds of their fixtures outside of the Bernabeu, which makes a Real victory to nil a decent-looking proposition at odds of 8/5.
All the signs point towards an away victory, with Real having never lost to Malaga in their entire history (22 meetings) and winning 4-0 when they last visited the Costa del Sol in October.
Aside from that heavy defeat, Malaga have been impressive at home – winning five and drawing two of their seven other matches – but Real’s performances on the road will be giving them serious food for thought.
Mourinho’s men boast a 7-1-1 away record in La Liga thus far and have scored 27 times in those matches (an average of three per game), while also conceding just five.
In fact, Real have managed a shut-out in two-thirds of their fixtures outside of the Bernabeu, which makes a Real victory to nil a decent-looking proposition at odds of 8/5.
New customers receive a free £25 bet for joining bwin.com and placing that on Real Madrid to win and keep a clean sheet offers potential returns of £65.
Having said that, a safer play could be to take odds of 22/25 on the visitors to win by at least two clear goals, which is something they have managed in an incredible 14 of their 17 league matches this term.
Interestingly, Real have scored their first goal in the 18th minute of their La Liga away matches on average this season, compared to the 21st minute for their fixtures at the Bernabeu.
And while Malaga will no doubt attempt to keep things tight in the opening stages, Mourinho has cast off his old defensive ways this season and will know that he can break the hosts’ spirit if his team grab the first goal.
With that in mind, it could also be well worth a punt on Madrid to open the scoring in the first half at odds of 3/5.
Backing them to win a match with over 2.5 goals at 18/25 also offers a more lucrative option than their 3Way price and factors in the potential for a Malaga goal, which cannot be ruled out after their exploits at the Bernabeu.
In terms of goalscorers, Ronaldo has smashed ten in his last six appearances against Malaga and will no doubt have plenty of backers at 5/2 to score first or 1/2 to notch at any time.
Benzema also merits interest at 7/2 to break the deadlock (7/10 to score at any time) as his renaissance under Mourinho continues, while Higuain could offer great value at 3/1 to score last if, as expected, he enters the fray as a second-half substitute.
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