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Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid

 Closely Contested Madrid Derby at The Vicente Calderon

Despite serene progress in this season’s edition of the Champions League, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side are in danger of losing touch with the top two in La Liga just 11 games in.

Having been a major player in the Spanish title race over the last few years – even getting the better of both Barcelona and their city rivals Real in 2014 – Atleti have already slipped six points off the pace set by Los Blancos, although none of the top teams have looked particularly impressive by their own high standards.

That will give the home side plenty of confidence and they are 6/4 (2.50) favourites with Paddy Power to cut that gap to the table toppers with a victory. Real are 2/1 (3.0) shots to win the game although that is not something they’ve managed in the league since April 2013.

Bet on La Liga

Atleti have had the upper hand domestically during Simeone’s tenure but these two rivals have contested two of the last three Champions League finals with Real now boasting an impressive 11 European titles courtesy of victories in 2014 and earlier this year. With that in mind, pride and points are on the line in equal measure but Paddy Power go 21/10 (3.10) for the draw and both sides are made to settle for a share of the spoils.

In truth, the draw actually makes the most appeal. Atleti have looked nothing like the defensive masters of recent years and come into this game after back-to-back leagues defeats on the road to Real Sociedad and Sevilla. Madrid on the other hand, have scored plenty of goals but struggled to keep them out in equal measure, keeping only three clean sheets in 16 games in all competitions this season.

The 21/10 (3.10) is appealing enough for a betting interest but for higher returns punters should consider the Both teams to score and Draw option available at Paddy Power. Simeone’s side are nowhere near as watertight as they were in previous seasons and with Zinedine Zidane’s side still looking shaky at the back, it would be no surprise to see a clash involving goals at both ends.

Both teams to score alone is a 4/6 (1.67) shot but combine it with the match result and Paddy Power go 16/5 (4.20) which makes plenty of appeal.

Elsewhere, the goalscorer markets could be of some interest with a galaxy of stars on show at the Calderon on Saturday night. Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t looked quite up to his magnificent best and has failed to make an impact in recent derby meetings (2 goals in 11 games excluding penalties) so he is best avoided at 11/10 (2.10).

Gareth Bale makes more appeal at 13/10 (2.30) as the Welshman seems to be growing into his role in the side with every passing game while Antoine Griezmann (11/10 anytime) could be worth a small stakes investment if passed fit to start the game. The France international should be Atleti’s most potent threat and with four goals in the last six La Liga meetings between these clubs he can certainly shine on the big stage. He’s 4/1 (5.0) to break the deadlock.

The best bet though, is undoubtedly the draw at 21/10 (3.10) with the both teams to score option available to add even more juice to the price at 16/5 (4.20) with Paddy Power

Will Argentina Miss 2018 Wold Cup

The World Cup Russia 2018 has it’s fair share of problems and the tournament is still over 18 months away. The worries over racism, doping and even the country’s infrastructure will be a concern to both fans and participating nations alike but one big name are in danger of missing out on a place at the next World Cup already.

2014 finalists Argentina, beaten only by an injury time Mario Gotze goal are now being forced to contemplate the possibility that they will not be present at the world’s next show-piece event. It’s been a tumultuous time for the South American side since that 1-0 defeat in Rio de Janeiro and things show no sign of improving going by recent results.

Lionel Messi temporarily retired from international duty after losing out to Chile on penalties in the Copa America final a few months ago, Sergio Aguero hinted that he too might follow suit. We all knew the Barcelona front man would be back, but the fact that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner felt, even momentarily, that he could no longer represent his national side was a sign of just how much pressure this extremely talented group of individuals are under.

That situation has only deepened in recent months, with Argentina sitting sixth in the South American qualifying group after 11 games. A 3-0 defeat to Brazil side who are excelling under new boss Tite and sit top of the group is bad enough but when it means that Edgardo Bauza’s men have now picked up just two points from their last four games, the alarm bells are well and truly ringing.

What makes this situation even more perplexing is just how talented this squad is. Packed to the rafters with a myriad of star individuals, albeit extremely top heavy and supported by a defence that is showing it’s age, they should still comfortably be one of the best four teams in the continent who qualify automatically for next summer’s tournament. At the moment though, they’re trailing Copa America champions Chile – who occupy the only play-off spot – by a single point.

That situation doesn’t necessarily sound so bad in isolation, this team are more than capable of making up a place or two in normal circumstances but the most worrying thing about this campaign is that they have dropped points against some of the lesser teams and still have plenty of tricky games to come.

Way back in October 2015 they lost 2-0 at home to an Ecuador team who, until that point, had gone nine matches and six years without a victory away from the altitude of Quito in World Cup qualifiers and things have barely looked up since. Bauza’s inability to get the best out of an uber talented squad means they are just a couple more unfavourable results away from the unthinkable.

FIFA’s decision to overturn two of Bolivia’s results due to fielding an ineligible player, giving points to Chile and Peru in the process, didn’t help Argentina’s plight but this mess is almost entirely of their own making. With tough games to come against the likes of Colombia, Chile and Uruguay, the 2014 runners up have just seven games left to turn around their ailing fortunes and book their place at Russia next summer. The pressure is on.