Tottenham Hotspur v Real Madrid
Live on BT Sport 2
Defeats may have shaken Spurs
Things change quickly in football. A week ago, Tottenham were feeling pretty content with their lot in life, having followed a dogged draw against Real Madrid with that firecracker shellacking of Liverpool at Wembley. 11 games unbeaten and serene progress on all fronts: good stuff. But now Spurs go into their return meeting against the European champions on the back of two consecutive defeats.
Neither game, taken in isolation, would be too much to worry about. Mauricio Pochettino admitted he didn't care too much about the League Cup weeks before the 3-2 loss to West Ham, and his charges came within a few minutes of securing a creditable draw against Manchester United. But taken together, they perhaps provide just the slightest cause for concern. At the very least, Pochettino cannot have been impressed with the defensive lapses that cost his side so dear in both games.
The absence of Harry Kane in attack is a mitigating factor, if not an excuse, and it remains unclear at time of writing whether the talismanic striker will be fit to return on Wednesday. If he fails to make it, Fernando Llorente - who has a good record against Madrid - could be brought into the side to provide a focal point.
Another hiccup for Madrid
The good news for Tottenham is that their opponents also suffered a body blow at the weekend. Madrid were turned over by Liga novices Girona, meaning the gap between them and and pace-setters Barcelona stands at an eye-watering eight points after ten games of the league season. "We will have better days," said Zinedine Zidane, which felt like an understatement.
The main worry for Los Merengues is that this wasn't exactly a freak bad performance. They have been playing stodgy football all season, often scraping by thanks to a bit of individual genius from someone or other. Only once, in the Champions League success over Borussia Dortmund, have they really looked like the side who swept aside all comers last term.
Zidane will be hoping for a repeat away display here and could be boosted by the return of Gareth Bale, who shone at the Westfalenstadion. The Welshman has been struggling with a calf issue but trained with the squad on Monday and may now be in contention to play some part against his former club.
Visitors a dangerous wounded animal
It's rare to see a side as good as Spurs as long as 3.30 to win a game at home, but that's probably understandable given the Kane worries and the pedigree of their opponents. Madrid are unbeaten in their last 30 Champions League group games and showed against Dortmund that they can still muster vintage performances away from home, even while struggling domestically. They will be desperate to make amends for that Girona result, too.
Madrid are 2.20 to win outright, which may tempt some, but a more profitable way to approach the away victory is via the Correct Score market. Including the Spanish Super Cup, Zidane's side have won seven games thus far this term, and five of them have been either 2-1 or 3-1. Dutching those two scoreline gives you an attractive price of [5.47].
Goals could flow
Given that the first game between these sides finished 1-1, the unders may look attractive at 2.70. But it's worth remembering that Hugo Lloris was man of the match in that one, rescuing Spurs on countless occasions. Add in the fact that playing away seems to suit Madrid - they're averaging 1.75 goals per game at the Bernabéu and 2.375 per game elsewhere - and it might even be worth taking on the 3.5-goal line at 2.22. The possible absence of Kane makes us reticent to take the plunge before seeing the team news, however.
Will Kane and Ronaldo do battle?
In Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo, these teams boast the competition's two top scorers so far. Each has five goals to his name and can be backed at 1.88 and 1.70 respectively to notch. If Kane doesn't start, there could be value in siding with Llorente at 2.36, because he has scored eight career goals against the side from Spain's capital.
Dutch Back Real Madrid 1-2 & 1-3 Correct Scores at 5.50