At the start of the season, Athletic Bilbao’s trip to the Santiago Bernabeu may have caught the eye of punters as a potentially tricky fixture for the reigning Spanish champions.
The Basques had illuminated the Europa League in the previous campaign with their stunning run to the final and, although they gained many followers along the way for their exciting football, they ultimately finished up the season trophy-less having also came runners-up in the Copa del Rey.
Yet those halcyon days of the first half of this year are now but a distant memory with the squad fracturing and failing to reproduce anything like the form of last season.
Five defeats already this term sees Athletic start the weekend in 12th place and Paddy Power price them at 14/1 (15.00) to record a win in the capital.
A victory for Marcelo Bielsa’s men looks even more unlikely, when you consider their recent form against Los Blancos, having lost each of their last five games against Madrid conceding 20 goals in the process.
Jose Mourinho’s charges, meanwhile, remain unbeaten at home in all competitions this season and can be backed at 1/7 (1.14) to inflict yet another defeat on their rivals from the north of Spain.
If this is a high-scoring fixture traditionally, then, backing over 3.5 goals looks like a solid investment and the price of 4/6 (1.67) is just about big enough for punters to consider.
This bet has comfortably paid out in each of the last four matches between the two sides at the Bernabeu, and should once again prove to be a correct selection here.
Analysing the last few meetings between both teams also highlights the curious quirk that Madrid have been awarded (and scored) five penalties in their last three home games against Athletic.
This may be down to the Basques rugged approach or to the referee’s reluctance to refuse the howls of the Bernabeu crowd when a home player goes down in the box. Either way, the price of 13/8 (2.63) for a penalty to be scored in the game should not be ignored.
For a genuine value bet, try backing the home side to get an early goal and lead at the 10-minute mark available at 3/1 (4.00).
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Phil Kitromilides is a sports broadcaster working on radio and TV in London and Madrid. You can also follow Phil on Twitter.