Few teams in the world could honestly be accused of being in the middle of a slump after drawing 0-0 at home against a team as strong as Unai Emery’s Valencia.
Yet this is exactly the kind of tone which was adopted on Monday after Jose Mourinho’s side allowed Barcelona back into the title race, having previously held a ten-point lead over their eternal rivals.
Now the Catalan outfit has another ace up its sleeve: the identity of the Galacticos’ next opponents – Sporting de Gijon, the same team who unexpectedly ended the Special One’s nine-year unbeaten run at the home with a stunning 1-0 win.
Faced with such an opponent, there is the feeling that Madrid may drop more points, allowing Barcelona to come back within striking distance.
Then again, it may be a tad rash to go for the visitors’ odds of winning (25/1), or even snatching a draw (23/2), as Madrid’s recent form belies the idea that they are in deep trouble.
One of the reasons behind Ronaldo’s success in front of goal this season is the fact that he hardly ever scores single goals: out of the last nine games in which he has scored, Ronaldo only netted once on one occasion.
Barring the scoreless draw against Valencia, Mourinho’s men have been in excellent nick, with two impressive 5-1 wins in La Liga, as well as the 4-1 mauling of Atletico Madrid in midweek which proved how Real can win through adversity.
With Radamel Falcao’s equaliser confirming Atleti’s dominant performance at the start of the second half, Madrid looked in trouble.
That is until Cristiano Ronaldo spoiled the party with a fabulous floated strike. One of the reasons behind Ronaldo’s success in front of goal this season is the fact that he hardly ever scores single goals: out of the last nine games in which he has scored, Ronaldo only netted once on one occasion.
Therefore, while his odds of repeating his hat-trick (5/2) aren’t particularly interesting, backing him to score two or more goals (17/20) or to open the scoring at 2/1 (as he has done on 11 occasions this season) could well pay dividends.
Having won three out of their last five league games, Madrid should be viewed as overwhelming favourites here, even though betting both on their win (1/20) and the total amount of goals (more than 3.5 in a home triumph is rated at an uninviting 31/50) is not a profitable course of action.
Rather, it would be wise to back Gijon to hold the fort until half-time (despite Pedro Orfila’s absence) before eventually losing out, an eventuality priced at 15/4.
It’s a play worth making, as Javier Clemente will likely line up the same defence which resisted heroically against Madrid here last year, as well as against Barcelona at the Nou Camp this season, where Gijon held Barcelona to a draw until the final quarter of an hour.
Madrid’s creativity will be further stymied by Xabi Alonso’s absence, which was a major factor in Atletico’s good performance in the first hour of the Madrid derby.
Bwin’s odds seem to favour the possibility of Madrid winning this game in the second half, as they are 11/10 to net more in this period of time than in the first 45 minutes.
Sporting will be handicapped by Miguel de la Cuevas’ absence – he scored the winner last year in that 1-0 shock – and his contribution will be sorely missed.
Gijon might, in fact, have some trouble scoring, as their top scorer, David Barral, hasn’t netted in eight games, whille last year’s principal goal getter Ruben Castro has left for Getafe.
At 3/5, it might be a good idea to back Madrid to win whiie keeping a clean sheet on Saturday.
Real to score more goals in second half than in first @ 11/10 Ronaldo to score two or more goals @ 17/20
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