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Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to help Real sink city rivals Atletico

| 07.02.2015

Despite having faced each other five times already this term, fierce cross-capital foes Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid’s rivalry shows no sign of letting up.

Diego Simeone’s side, 19/10 with Coral to triumph again, have firmly emerged from the shadow of their illustrious neighbours, and remain unbeaten against Los Blancos in all competitions this campaign.

Carlo Ancelotti, meanwhile, will be anxious to end his recent Vicente Calderon curse, having won just one of his four visits there since taking over as Bernabeu boss.

Real still hold a far superior head-to-head record, however, with 32 victories to Atleti’s eight, and will be boosted by the return from suspension of leading scorer and superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

If Ronaldo can keep his cool, the Portugal skipper is fantastic value at 4/1 to open the scoring, or a sensational 6/1 to bag a brace or better.

Clashes between these two teams are usually billed as guile against grit, but Simeone can also boast plenty of talent able to provide silk alongside the steel of midfield shields Tiago and Gabi.

In-form France forward Antoine Griezmann has eight goals and two assists from his last six league outings, making him 15/8 in the anytime market.

Returning hero Fernando Torres will also battle Mario Mandzukic for a spot up top, although the Croatia striker seems likely to start.

After netting twice last time out, Mandzukic is 33/1 to hit a hat-trick, whilst Torres, who terrorised Los Blancos in January, is 7/1 to score last.

Atletico must fancy their chances in attack on home turf, especially considering Real’s depleted rearguard.

With usual centre back pair Sergio Ramos and Pepe both potentially sidelined, Ancelotti could be forced to field an inexperienced partnership of Raphael Varane and Nacho Fernandez.

To compound Los Blanocs’ woes, left back Marcelo will also be suspended for this clash and Colombia attacker James Rodriguez is also facing a spell on the treatment table with a broken toe.

Rodriguez’s absence could potentially work in Real’s favour though, if Ancelotti chooses to replace him with the nous and workrate of Sami Khedira.

Ancelotti will need his top stars to step up and make sure defensive frailties are covered by adventure in attack, as victory for Real, available at 7/5, is crucial to their title winning chances.

Gareth Bale, recently the subject of boos from the Bernabeu faithful, and Karim Benzema are both 7/4 in the anytime, market, whilst Javier Hernandez is 15/2 to be a super sub and grab a goal last.

This clash has the potential to blow the race for La Liga title wide open, and allow Atleti back into the battle, so back goals galore with excellent odds of 12/1 for both teams to score in both halves.



Holly Thackeray

Holly is a member of the content team, and can often be found on the sports desk writing about favourite topics Serie A and East Asian footballing nations. A recent darts convert, she is also a fully-fledged member of Barney's Army and a proud Leeds-born Manchester United fan.