Atletico can grab a lead to take to the Bernabeu
Mario Mandzukic has declared himself fit to face Atletico Madrid’s arch-rivals Real in the Madrid derby and that’s a huge boost for Diego Simeone’s side.
The great rivals met in the final last year, with Real coming out on top. But Atletico have had their revenge this season. The teams have already met on six occasions with the Mattressmakers coming out on top in both Primera Liga meetings. They also knocked Los Blancos out of the Copa del Rey and beat them in the Spanish Super Cup back in August so Carlo Ancelotti’s team need to improve.
Ancelotti is a manager under pressure with the Champions League arguably his star-studded side’s best chance of some silverware this season, though Barcelona’s draw at the weekend has opened the door a little again in the league. But he should be able to play his strongest side in the Vicente Calderon with Pepe fit again. James missed the nail-biting last 16 win over Schalke but has slotted back into the midfield since while Gareth Bale is likely to start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in attack.
Mandzukic’s presence will be enough to have those in all-white fearing the worst, however, and Fernando Torres is likely to be waiting in the wings if required, though Torres is one of five Atletico players just one yellow card away from suspension. Cristian Ansaldi, Jesus Gamez, Gabi and Mario Suarez are also treading the tightrope and Real first-teamers Fabio Coentrao, Marcelo and Toni Kroos are other players on the brink.
Atletico Madrid have scored exactly one goal in their four previous matches against Real in Europe and we have priced up that outcome again at 7/5. They’ve never lost at home against another Spanish side in European competition and can keep that record intact by taking a first-leg lead at 7/4. A 1-0 correct score is 25/4.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Tuesday, April 14 at the Vicente Calderon.