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Our man in Madrid, Phil Kitromilides, is backing an effective Atletico side to be ahead at the break when they host Luciano Spalletti's men on Wednesday

Champions League football returns to the Vicente Calderon for the first time in nearly four years and during that hiatus Atletico Madrid have seemingly cemented their place as the third power in Spanish football.

Two Europa League titles and a Copa del Rey have meant the trophy cabinet has been well stocked and while players have come and gone, Atleti's current squad is as strong as they have ever had.

They should be confident then of getting off to a winning start at home to Zenit St Petersburg and William Hill price them at just 11/20 (1.55) for the win. The Russians meanwhile are offered at 5/1 (6.00) with the draw available at 3/1 (4.00).

As we saw yesterday with Real Sociedad, decent domestic form does not always translate into a European performance yet Diego Simeone's side have been imperious so far this season and there is little reason to back against them.

While backing them outright does not appeal at the price quoted, investing in them to win the first half at 21/20 (2.05) could be worthy of some consideration. Atleti have one of the best recent home records in any of the major European leagues.

They are not always attractive to watch but they are usually extremely effective.

Backing them at home against a side they should beat means it is tough to find any serious value but backing them at odds against to win the first half looks like a decent option for a small investment.

BET
OF THE
DAY
BEST BET
Atletico Madrid to win the first half at 21/20 (2.05) 0.5pts with William Hill

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Phil Kitromilides is a sports journalist and TV Presenter in Madrid

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