It was just what Madrid did not want. On the weekend that their eternal rivals Barcelona were annihilating Osasuna at the Camp Nou 8-0 (and it could have been 13), the team from the capital succumbed to one of the most unexpected defeats of Jose Mourinho’s tumultuous reign in Spain, losing 1-0 to lowly Levante.
That is a Levante side whose highest-earning player makes £315,000 a year, roughly what the self-proclaimed “handsome, rich and talented” Cristiano Ronaldo earns in a few days. It was not a good result.
So three points this evening on the Cantabrian coast are an absolute must, especially as Barca seemed to have fully recovered from their “crisis” of two consecutive draws which preceded their victory against Osasuna.
Madrid, as they are in every match except El Clasico, are a short price to win at 11/50, but giving Racing a 1-0 head-start reduces that to a much more tempting 57/100. The hosts are available at a lengthy 12/1, while the draw is available at 21/4.
However, you should resist the urge to back a big Madrid win. Yes, Real have won their last eight matches against Racing, and yes, the team from Santander have looked one of the weakest so far this season and will surely be involved in a desperate battle to avoid relegation come May.
But Real often come away from trips to the north of Spain with hard-fought, ground-out victories rather than exceptional goal-fests. Last season they won at Sociedad and Gijon by the odd goal and were held to a scoreless stalemate by a Deportivo side who were eventually relegated.
With that in mind, you could do worse than take the 5/2 on offer for one of the sides to win by a single-goal margin, while in the correct score market, the 35/4 offered for a 1-0 away win is well worth a second look.
If you want to delve into the goalscorer markets, then consider a small wager on Fabio Coentrao.
The Portuguese midfielder is yet to open his account for Madrid, but he is priced at 9/5 to do so at any time tonight. He may have missed an eye-watering sitter in the last home game against Getafe, but it is encouraging that he is pressing into more advanced positions and he will surely grab his first goal for the club sooner rather than later.
A safer option, but less enticing with the prices involved, is to back either Karim Benzema or the aforementioned Ronaldo to open the scoring at 3/1 or 2/1 respectively.
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