Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid
Competition: UEFA Champions League
Date: 2 May 2017
Kick-off: 20:45 CET
Seventeen points. Real Madrid have 81 points in Spain’s championship so far, and 17 of those have been earned with goals in the last ten minutes, something that gives you an idea about which is Madrid’s strongest period in many matches. Even against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals, it was a 77th-minute goal that gave them the win at Allianz Arena. In the return leg at Santiago Bernabeu, they killed Bayern off later than the 90th minute, scoring three goals in extra time. If not anything else, this is something that shows how Madrid simply… keep the best for last. Not that other teams haven’t hurt them the same way. Lionel Messi scored in added time to give Barcelona a huge 3-2 win in Madrid ten days ago, and even Atletico grabbed a point at Bernabeu earlier this month, with an Antoine Griezmann 85th-minute goal. Last weekend, Real needed an 85th-minute Marcelo goal to beat Valencia 2-1. Gareth Bale, Pepe and Fabio Coentrao are the three injured players Zinedine Zidane cannot count on for this match. Raphael Varane is perfectly fine, he didn’t play against Valencia only because Zidane chose not to push things after his compatriot’s latest injury, but against Atletico he is expected to play.
Atletico’s biggest issue at the moment is who will be their right-back at Bernabeu. Jose Gimenez got injured and is unavailable, a problem that would be less important if Juanfran and Sime Vrsaljko, the two players who normally play at right-back, were not injured as well. Vrsaljko trained more or less normally these last days, but last time he played was a month and a half ago, which leads to all sorts of questions regarding how fit he could be to play in such a demanding game as a Champions League semifinal is. According to reports, Diego Simeone could use a midfielder as right-back, if he feels, after all, that pushing Vrsaljko would be the wrong thing to do, both for the team and the Croatian defender. Last weekend, Atletico thrashed Las Palmas 5-0 away from home, bouncing back from their home defeat to Villarreal ten days ago. Great news for the ‘Rojiblancos’ is that Yannick Carrasco is 100% ready to play, having left behind him his recent shoulder injury.
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: Head-to-head Stats
Real Madrid have beaten Atletico just once in their last five games at Bernabeu. It was in April 2015, in a Champions League game, which Real won 1-0 thanks to a Javier Hernandez goal two minutes from time. Atletico have two wins in their last five visits to Bernabeu, and two games have ended in a draw, with the most recent one being the game earlier this month.
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: Prediction
Only one of the last seven games between Real and Atletico Madrid have had more than two goals, so since this is the first leg of a semifinal, and not a final or a LaLiga game, I’m leaving winners and losers aside, and I’m going with goals, expecting the game to have no more than two.
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: Tips
‘Under 2.5 goals’ pays 1.80. Given Atletico’s problems at right-back and Marcelo’s excellent form, I can see Real Madrid win, but I wouldn’t bet on a simple win of theirs at 1.83, I would stick to ‘under 2.5 goals’. To make a Real win worth it, I’d combine that with keeping a clean sheet, which pays 2.87.