Their Champions League and Copa del Rey campaigns might have ended in disappointment, but Real Madrid’s 2011-12 campaign looks set to go down as a success given their position in La Liga.
With three games to play, Los Blancos are seven points clear of second-placed Barcelona, meaning a win against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames this evening would be enough for them to clinch their first Spanish league title since 2008.
According to Aitor Karanka, who has acted as Jose Mourinho’s spokesperson of late while the Real boss continues his boycott of the Spanish media, finishing first in La Liga would not make up for Los Blancos’ exit on penalties to Bayern Munich at the semi-final stage of the Champions League this time last week.
Nevertheless, with Barcelona having dominated in Spain – and Europe – over the last three years, denying the Catalan giants a fourth consecutive league crown will no doubt be extremely satisfying for Real, even if succeeding Pep Guardiola’s men as Champions League winners has proved beyond them.
Real have dropped points on just three occasions away from home this season – losing just once – and have conceded the fewest and scored the most goals in the league on their travels.
For as Karanka noted, winning the title – for it is surely inevitable, even if it doesn’t happen this evening – has hardly been a procession for Real.
That the gap to Barca is seven points owes a great deal to Real’s 2-1 victory in El Clasico 11 days ago – defeat then would have set up a nervy finish to the season for the team from the Spanish capital.
As it is, Real can wrap things up with two games to spare and at a stadium where victory would be extremely symbolic in the context of the campaign.
Barcelona’s title defence has foundered on their away form, where five draws and two defeats from 17 games contrasts sharply with their record at Camp Nou, which reads 15 wins, one draw and the solitary loss which came against Real last month.
And one of the places they dropped points was San Mames, where they could only secure a 2-2 draw – and that after Lionel Messi scored a 90th-minute equaliser.
Victory for Real, then, would offer a reminder – if one was needed – of why they have proved so successful this year, and the evidence suggests that an away success is on the cards.
This is certainly the picture painted in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, where Real are odds-on favourites at 1/2.
This leaves the draw at 17/5 and a home win for Athletic at 19/4.
Another pointer towards a win for Los Blancos is that Real have dropped points on just three occasions away from home this season – losing just once – and have conceded the fewest and scored the most goals in the league on their travels.
Real have also won 14 of their last 15 games against Athletic and six of their last seven matches in La Liga – a sequence which includes victories away to Barca and Atletico Madrid.
With this in mind, it appears that Athletic will be unable to do to Real what they did to Barca and that three points and the title are there for Real to take.
And with all but three of Real’s 14 recent wins against Athletic coming with over 2.5 goals, combining the two eventualities could be the way to go.
At odds of 91/100, a successful £25 free bet on Real to beat Athletic in a game with over 2.5 goals is set to return £47.75, with the free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.
For longer odds, consider betting on Cristiano Ronaldo to outscore Athletic at odds of 37/20.
The Portuguese forward has scored eight goals in his last six appearances for Los Blancos and, significantly, has outscored Athletic the last three times the two teams have met.
Odds of 37/20 therefore look good for a man almost guaranteed a goal, particularly against a team who have scored just six times in their last five matches.
Real Madrid to win with over 2.5 goals @ 91/100
Ronaldo to score more goals than Athletic Bilbao @ 37/20
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