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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Rampant Real Madrid should be backed to ease past Atletico

Rojiblancos unlikely to come back

Real Madrid are on the brink of another Champions League final
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Champions League semi-final second leg
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Wednesday

Atletico Madrid have had some special times at the Vicente Calderon but their last European match at the venue could be a chastening experience with Real Madrid set to build on the 3-0 advantage established at the Bernabeu last Tuesday.

Diego Simeone's side will do everything in their power to erase the deficit and qualify for a third Champions League final in four years.

And they don't have to delve too far into history for a source of inspiration.

Atleti famously won 4-0 at home to Real in a La Liga fixture in February 2015 and will look to play with the same energy and quality they showed on that occasion.

Real were outclassed on the night - losing the shot count 15 to two - and could have no complaints about the result.

Los Blancos started the match slowly and were 2-0 down inside the first 20 minutes, and became unbalanced after the break, playing into the hands of a team who love to counter-attack.

But lightning is unlikely to strike twice as Real have no need to panic in the event of Atleti opening the scoring.

The defending champions can play in a composed fashion, knowing a single away goal would kill the tie dead.

And there should be plenty of space to exploit against an Atletico side who have no option other than to play an offensive game, something totally alien to their usual instincts.

Atleti are usually so reliable at the back but were all at sea at the Bernabeu and ruthlessly punished by Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick.

Ronaldo has had a quiet season in La Liga and trails Lionel Messi by 15 goals in the Spanish scoring charts.

But he is saving his best efforts for Champions League nights and needs just two more goals to overtake Messi as the tournament's top scorer this season.

Gareth Bale is sidelined but Real have plenty of strength in depth and won 4-0 at Granada on Sunday despite head coach Zinedine Zidane making nine changes to the starting line up.

Zidane's selection at Granada was a huge vote of confidence in the fringe players because a defeat could have thrown the title race wide open. It also demonstrated that Zidane remains totally focused on finishing the job against Atleti and is taking nothing for granted.

Atleti will do their best to try and whip up a storm and take advantage of any complacency in Real's ranks and scoring should not be a problem against a Real side who have kept just three clean sheets in 18.

But registering a shutout will be tough.

Real have scored in each of their last 60 competitive matches and are highly likely to register the away goal which would set them up for a comfortable night's work.

Real Madrid
1pt 17-10 bet365, Betfair, BoyleSports

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Team news
Atletico Madrid
Jose Gimenez and Sime Vrsaljko have not recovered from injuries which ruled them out of the first leg but Juanfran is back in training and set to return at right back.

Real Madrid
Dani Carvajal misses out with a hamstring injury sustained in the first leg. Nacho is likely to deputise at right back.

Key stat
Real Madrid have scored in each of their last 60 games.

Atleti are usually so reliable at the back but were all at sea at the Bernabeu and ruthlessly punished by Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick
E.W. Terms
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