Cristiano Ronaldo could not be in hotter form at the Bernabeu ahead of his much anticipated first clash with Manchester United since departing for the sunnier climate of Spain, but predicting how many goals he will score against his former employers does not look the best bet ahead of their Champions League clash.
Punters will get their losing first scorer bets refunded as a free bet should Ronaldo net first or last at the Bernabeu and his recent record suggests that there is a strong possibility that he will be on target.
Ronaldo has ten goals in his last five games for Real and eight in his last three at the Bernabeu, which includes back-to-back hat-tricks against Getafe and Sevilla.
He is the 7/2 favourite to strike first, but punters should be aware that he hasn’t broken the deadlock in the eight games since Real Madrid secured a Champions League victory over Ajax in early December.
Alternatively, it is 5/6 that he is on target at any point in the 90 minutes, 14/1 to score a third successive Bernabeu hat-trick and 6/4 in the wincast to score in a Real Madrid victory.
In terms of match betting, Man Utd are a slightly odd price at 18/5, but it is hard to see them arriving looking for the victory.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s best approach is almost certainly attempting to nullify Real Madrid’s best attacking ploys, which is shutting off passes to Xabi Alonso, shackling Ronaldo and keeping space to a minimum on the counter attack.
Wayne Rooney has defensive discipline and could do a job on Alonso, Phil Jones has shown positional awareness in recent weeks in helping limit the impact of Gareth Bale and Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick is pretty good at closing down space to prevent dangerous passes.
These roles are critical, but setting up in this way could leave Rooney and Robin Van Persie fairly isolated in attack and it may take one of them to conjure something up for themselves to score.
Real Madrid look a worthy price at 4/6 to triumph despite their indifferent La Liga form, while the draw can be backed at 3/1.
However, the standout price on offer is the 11/8 that Real Madrid win the first half to nil.
Man Utd have failed to score in the first half of their last three in the Champions League and keeping things tight will be their chief priority in the opening period.
Real Madrid have scored in the opening period in their last five in the competition, winning at the interval without conceding in the last two against Manchester City and Ajax.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date