Real Madrid – Atletico Madrid Betting Preview: Why a high-scoring first half in the derby looks likely

Few sides in world football can boast a record of such utter dominance over their city rivals as Real Madrid.

It has been 23 games and nearly 14 years since Atletico defeated their more illustrious neighbours in a competitive fixture, a fact which at last season lead to the Madrid Ultras holding up a banner in the style of a classified advert which read “Wanted: Decent rival for a derby”.

This season, however, the Bernabeu faithful may just have got their wish as Atleti come into the match a place above and eight points ahead of Jose Mourinho’s men.

While history is not on their side, recent form very much is, and Bet365 price Atletico at 11/2 (6.50) to break their barren run without a win against Madrid.

Los Blancos, meanwhile, are offered at 4/9 (1.44) while the draw can be backed at 7/2 (4.50).

With 18 wins from their last 20 games in all competitions, Atletico – it is fair to say – are on a roll. They have also kept five clean sheets in their last five games, a feat only previously achieved once in the 109-year history of the club.

In Radamel Falcao, they have the world’s most coveted No.9 and, in Diego Simone, they possess a manager of fierce intensity. The feeling in Spain is that this season, Atletico will not tamely succumb to their eternal rivals.

With Atleti having scored in 19 of their last 20 La Liga games, and Madrid almost always finding the net at home, both teams to score looks a nailed on selection at 4/7 (1.57).

Yet the price is perhaps a little too small for most, so instead consider backing over 1.5 goals to be scored in the first half at 11/10 (2.10).

This bet has paid out eight times in La Liga matches involving Atletico this season, while it has also proved to be the correct selection in six of Madrid’s league games.

Furthermore this fixture has a history of high-scoring first halves with each of the last three matches between the sides at the Bernabeu seeing two goals or more scored in the opening 45 minutes.

For a value bet, try backing Cristiano Ronaldo to claim another high profile hat-trick at 11/2 (6.50). The Portuguese scored three the last time the two teams met and clearly loves scoring in the derby with seven goals in his last five matches against Atleti.

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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.

Futre: A lot of people enjoy seeing Mourinho struggle

Former Portugal international Paulo Futre believes that a lot of people enjoy seeing Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho going through a difficult spell.

The Blancos have been struggling to find their best form this term, and the former Inter and Chelsea boss was whistled by his own fans during the Copa del Rey win over Alcoyano earlier this week.

Futre believes people enjoy watching the ‘Special One’ suffer.

“I think a lot of people are happy things aren’t going well for him. You either love him or hate him, there is no middle ground,” Futre was quoted as saying by Marca.

“Mourinho’s used to being surrounded by controversy, but it’s a difficult moment for him.

“It will be hard for him to win the league now and impossible if Real doesn’t win on Saturday. There must have been occasions when he would have happily walked away.

“Every time Mourinho opens his mouth, he causes controversy, whatever he says. There are always rumours, things aren’t clear. It’s a difficult situation. It seems people don’t want him to succeed. There’s a feeling of hate.”

Mourinho will be hoping Real Madrid return to winning ways in Saturday’s derby against Atletico Madrid.

Modric: Bale would make Real Madrid unstoppable

Former Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric is hoping Gareth Bale will join him at Real Madrid, and says if the Welsh winger did move to the Bernabeu, the team would be “unstoppable”.

The Croatian international revealed he has spoken to Bale, who told him he wants to play in the Champions League every season, something which is more or less guaranteed at Madrid.

He told The Sun: “We used to talk and I know he wants to play Champions League football every season and has a big dream of winning the Champions League.

“Madrid would be a great club for him to achieve his dreams. I play with [Cristiano] Ronaldo here at Madrid and the way he just runs with the ball with such confidence and defenders back off him is exactly the same as Gareth.

“To have the both in the same team would be unstoppable.”

Having seen his own future at Tottenham become unstable during his time at White Hart Lane, Modric knows Spurs will not want to sell one of their key players.

He added: “Of course Spurs want to keep Bale — he is loved by the fans and it is easy to see why.

“But they must make Champions League football this season if he is to stay. If he decides to leave Spurs then every top club in Europe will want him.

“He is an intelligent guy and is open to new experiences. I know he sees the value in playing abroad, so when the time comes he will have a big decision to make.

“There is not a club in the world that would not want Gareth in their team. The way he plays scares defenders — and when he is in full flow there is no stopping him.

“It is not just that he has pace but he has the goals and creates goals to go with it. Already he is one of the best players in the world and he will only get better.

“There are some great players in the Premier League but for me Gareth is now the best and most dangerous.”

Arbeloa: It's in Real Madrid's DNA to achieve the impossible

Alvaro Arbeloa - Real Madrid

Alvaro Arbeloa – Real Madrid

Alvaro Arbeloa is confident that Real Madrid have what it takes to get back in the title race in the remainder of the 2012-13 campaign.

The reigning champions have been struggling to find their best form in the opening months of the term and are currently trailing league leaders Barcelona by 11 points.

Nevertheless, Arbeloa has little doubt that Madrid can turn things around and challenge their arch-rivals for the Liga title.

“I think that if anyone’s capable of turning a situation like this around, if anyone’s capable of pulling together and fighting on, it’s Real Madrid,” Arbeloa told the bwin website.

“It’s something that’s in our DNA, in the DNA of this shirt, of this club, fighting to the end and achieving the impossible.”

The full-back also took the time to discuss this weekend’s derby against Atletico Madrid, and stressed that the Colchoneros will not be pushovers.

He added: “You only have to look at the table and especially see how they’re playing to realise it will be complicated match.

“Since [Diego] Simeone arrived I think that they’ve changed completely and nowadays [they’re] one of the best teams in Europe.”

Saturday’s encounter is scheduled to kick off at 22.00CET.

Del Bosque hoping for entertaining Madrid derby

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque would like to see a good match when Real Madrid entertain Atletico Madrid this weekend, who he believes are a strong side under Diego Simeone.

Los Colchoneros are enjoying a great season and are currently second in the Primera Division, three points behind leaders Barcelona and an impressive eight points ahead of their cross-town rivals.

Although Atleti have a miserable record against los Blancos, Del Bosque hopes that the outcome of the match will not be determined early on as it has often been in the past.

“Atletico Madrid under Simeone are a very good team. I hope it will be a good match between them and Real Madrid,” the Salamanca-native was quoted by Marca.

“I hope that the game will not be resolved in the opening stages like it has been in previous years.

“Atletico have had their ups and downs over the years. But, now with Simeone that are more consistent.”

Del Bosque was speaking before travelling to Brazil where the final shortlists for the Ballon D’Or were made and where he will attend the draw for next year’s Confederations Cup this Saturday.

Talking of the annual award and next year’s warm-up competition ahead of the 2014 World Cup, Del Bosque revealed which fellow coaches he voted for, denied that Brazil are no longer the force they used to be while insisting that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi could play together.

“They [Ronaldo and Messi] for sure could play in the same team, just like all good players,” he continued.

“As for my votes, I elected Roberto Di Matteo who won the Champions League, Cesare Prandelli who led Italy to the final of Euro 2012 and Pep Guardiola who I believe is an important figure within football.

“Brazil do not cease to be Brazil. They, as hosts, have fantastic players still.”