Two of the leading three go head-to-head in the Madrid derby tomorrow – a crucial match that is likely to determine the rest of the season for both sides. Atletico have been easily the biggest gainers (in terms of my pre-season expectations), but that has done nothing to top them significantly dropping on my ratings in recent weeks. They were fortunate to get all three points out of Madrid and were outplayed by Osasuna in Pamplona a few days later, with all their statistical performance data suggesting they are indeed on the fall. Tired? This is quite possibly the case – I think their inability to be able to rotate is really harming them.
Real Madrid on the other hand are a complete different animal. Despite some jittery performances at the beginning of the year, with plenty of failures to cover some large negative handicap lines, the afterburners are now well and truly on. It’s been convincing win after convincing win, with shot/SOT data to support their dominance on all fronts. As a sidenote, their front 3 is now up there with the best I’ve ever seen; it’s near perfectly balanced in terms of varied goalscoring threat, pace and passing ability.
As it stands, this is a +/-0.25 AHC game priced at around the 2.08/1.85 mark. Real Madrid have unsurprisingly seen a little money since their Champions League demolition of Schalke. Goals markets have Overs as a slight fav, with O/U 2.5 goals currently sitting around the 1.86/2.04 area.
Pleasantly, neither team has any significant team news ahead of the derby. Real Madrid are fully healthy, with Ronaldo making a return to the league line-up following suspension in the last few rounds (scratching – seriously?). Tiago will be absent for Atletico, although this is one area of the pitch where Atleti can afford a little rotation; Mario Suarez will start once again.
It’s a fairly ‘British’ day tomorrow in Madrid, with cool temperatures and overcast conditions, with the chance of the occasional shower here and there. Although a bit different to what they’re used to, there’s no impending need to make alterations to my prices as a result of this weather.
As touched upon in the team summaries, despite the rather small difference in league table points, I have a considerable difference in ability between these sides on my ratings. In fact, Real Madrid have been increasing their underlying numbers so drastically in recent weeks, I have them almost a goal better than their neighbours here. Even though they technically are playing on the road here, Real will reap many of the benefits of playing at the Bernabeu, being able to stay in their usual hotel under very little travel time – hell, could probably run the distance there as a warm up. When combined with the likely negative playing style of Atletico, home advantage is significantly reduced here.
Even once taking a conservative 1% adjustment for Real Madrid playing Champions League midweek (which a squad of their experience and ability should be more than able to handle), I make them 51.5% favourites here. In terms of 100% AHC prices, this equates to +0.25 @ 2.47 and -0.25 @ 1.68. When throwing in a bundle of margin, my final target for backing Real -0.25 is 1.78; a price which is currently well within range and one that I have already ploughed into.