Real Madrid will be looking to lay down a marker when they touch down in Germany to tackle RB Leipzig in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday evening.
The Spanish powerhouses are the most decorated team in the competition’s history with 14 European Cups to their name, and the appetite for continued success remains insatiable.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men warmed up for this clash in spectacular fashion as they turned in a mesmerising display last weekend to trounce La Liga title rivals Girona 4-0.
The Italian tactician, however, has had his hand dealt by some untimely injuries, chiefly Jude Bellingham, who came off against Girona with an ankle problem, and no timeline has been set for his return.
Leipzig, on the other hand, lost ground in their bid to secure a top-four finish in the Bundesliga with a disappointing 2-2 draw away to Augsburg, while Borussia Dortmund swept aside Freiburg 3-0.
Marco Rose’s men are targeting a repeat of their magical run in the 2019/20 campaign when they reached the Champions League semi-finals, and they have reached the knockout stages on three occasions.
But how will things pan out in the Red Bull Arena? I have taken a deep dive into the betting markets and plucked out a couple of lines for your consideration ahead of kick-off.
No Jude, no problem
The news of Bellingham’s absence will have undoubtedly given Leipzig a much-needed fillip, as Bellingham has been a revelation for the visitors.
Indeed, the England international has scored or assisted in all five of his Champions League appearances for Real so far, and he can virtually win games single-handed.
Despite their patchy results of late, Leipzig boast a few attacking weapons, and Lois Openda has been lethal, firing 18 goals in all competitions.
Four goals from his six Champions League outings pay testament to his form, but he has been ably supported by Xavi, who has weighed in with two goals and two assists in the competition.
Although Openda will pose serious questions of the Real defence, the visitors boast an impressive record against German teams.
Indeed, Ancelotti’s side have lost just one of their past 15 meetings with German outfits, and coincidentally, Leipzig got the better of Real with a 3-2 win in the group stages last term.
Leipzig have only failed to hit the net once in their past 20 Champions League home matches, so perhaps this could be a goal-laden encounter.
To kick things off, I fancy Real to underline their credentials once again and take an advantage back to the Bernabeu. I’m therefore pointing you in the direction of Real to win & BTTS which has been priced up at an inviting 11/4 with Paddy Power.
Rodrygo to conjure up some magic
During Real’s impeccable group campaign where they garnered a maximum of 18 points across six games, Rodrygo came to the fore.
The Brazilian played a pivotal role, chipping in with three goals, and he is invariably a menace.
Real have been formidable at this stage of the competition, progressing from 11 of their past 13 Round of 16 ties.
Rodrygo loves to drift inside and break the lines, and Leipzig will have a job on their hands to thwart him.
He could well be the difference on the night, and to round things off, I’ve been a bit bolder and gone with Rodrygo to bag a double, which is available at a longer 16/1 with bet365.