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APOEL Nicosia v Real Madrid: Routine win for holders in Champions League

16:42 GMT 21/11/2017
Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid Las Palmas
The visitors need a point to qualify for the knockout stages and we are backing them to claim a low-scoring win in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane insisted his side were on the right track following their goalless draw in the Madrid derby on Saturday night, yet the reality is that the defending champions are ten points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona.

While the Frenchman was buoyed by a performance which saw Los Blancos dominate possession against their cross-city rivals, the fact remains that Madrid have struggled in front of goal this term.

In Europe, the side have been slightly more convincing, although their 3-1 defeat at Tottenham in the previous matchday means that claiming top spot in Group H is no longer in their own hands.

Having won the tournament last season after finishing second in their group, Madrid will know that more important than top spot is regaining some momentum with a dominant display in Cyprus and Betsafe offer the holders at 17/100 (1.17).

APOEL, for their part, have remarkably reached the penultimate game in the competition still with a mathematical chance of qualifying for the knockout stage and with a realistic chance of claiming a spot in the Europa League.

That they still have hope is thanks to two extraordinary draws home and away against Borussia Dortmund, and Giorgios Donis' men are offered at 16/1 (17.00) to record an historic win, with the draw available at 81/10 (9.10).

While Madrid were being held to a stalemate in their local derby, APOEL triumphed 3-1 in their cross-city rivalry with Omonia and the Cypriot champions have certainly improved after a poor start domestically; whether they are able to further frustrate a Madrid side who are yet to spark into life this season remains to be seen, although the price of 21/20 (2.05) for both teams to score looks of interest, especially with Madrid missing injured captain Sergio Ramos.

The Cypriots, however, looked pretty insipid at the Bernabeu where they lost 3-0, and having lost by the same scoreline in Nicosia against Tottenham too, the gulf in class between APOEL and Real Madrid should be clear once more.

Perhaps, therefore, we should back a comfortable - rather than a spectacular - away win and a Madrid victory with under 3.5 goals in the game looks appealing at 7/5 (2.40); this selection pays out with a 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 or 3-0 victory for the visitors, and those seem like solid options for a Real Madrid side who have not been firing on all cylinders recently. 

Real Madrid to win and under 3.5 goals at 7/4 (2.40) for a 2pt stake with Betsafe