Sparks to fly at the Santiago Bernabeu

madrid dortmundThe UEFA Champions League quarter-finals kick off this week and the best bet in the four first legs is Real Madrid and Dortmund both to score in their Santiago Bernabeu showdown.

Real Madrid is a fabulous team once it gets past the halfway line but, like its Spanish Primera Division rival Barcelona, it is somewhat of a mess in its own half, particularly when it comes up against the cream of the continent. And while Dortmund has proven no match for Bayern Munchen in the German Bundesliga this season, it is a quality side.

Both teams have scored in six of Real Madrid’s eight UEFA Champions League matches, including three out of the four games played at the Santiago Bernabeu. Indeed, the only one of Real’s four UEFA Champions League opponents not to score versus it has been Kobenhavn, with Galatasaray, Juventus and Schalke finding the net both at home and on the road.

One rates Dortmund higher than Galatasaray, Juventus and Schalke, with the comparison between BVB and 04 being the easiest one to make because they are German Bundesliga rivals. Dortmund is one place and one point in front of Schalke on the German Bundesliga, plus it has scored nine more goals than its Ruhr Valley neighbour, which is key data pertaining to the suggested both-sides-to-score bet.

Ladbrokes is offering odds of 1.50 that Real Madrid and Dortmund combine for more than two and a half goals in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg but one is more interested in odds of 1.70 with Betfair’s sportsbook and Bwin that both teams score a goal.

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid‘s UEFA Champions League clash at the Camp Nou will be the fourth time that the sides have met this term and they will meet a total of six times before the season is over. One likes both teams not to score in the all-Spanish Primera Division match at odds of 2.00 with several bookmakers, including Coral and Sky Bet.

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona drew 1-1 and 0-0 in the two legs of the Supercopa de Espana before playing out a 0-0 draw in the Spanish Primera Division game at the Vicente Calderon. One is expecting Atletico to set up to frustrate Barcelona, giving up chasing an away goal or two in a concerted effort to stop Barca from scoring at home.

One can bet at odds against on the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid going under two and a half goals but one prefers betting on at least one clean sheet at slightly shorter odds. Of course, there is a decent case for supporting Barcelona in the win-to-nil market if one believes that Atletico will play very conservatively on Tuesday.

Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is, once again, the forgotten side of the UEFA Champions League last eight. It strikes one as being fairly priced at odds of 2.10 with Boylesports and Ladbrokes to earn a first-leg advantage over Chelsea.

ZlatanParis Saint-Germain has strung together nine consecutive victories leading into its UEFA Champions League clash against a Chelsea side that has pretty much thrown away its chance of English Premier League title glory in the last few weeks, losing 0-1 at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has a way with words but it will be interesting to see how the Blues players react to his latest public comments. Either they will inspire them or, a la the situation across London at Tim Sherwood’s Tottenham, they will do much more harm than good.

Paris Saint-Germain showed with its contemptuous dismissal of Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League last 16 that it is worthy of dining at Europe’s top table and it has not lost a UEFA Champions League home match since 2004, whereas Chelsea has been nothing better than mediocre on its UEFA Champions League travels recently, with the honourable exception being its 3-0 win at Schalke in October.

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