The last few weeks have seen Atletico Madrid go back to basics, with Diego Simeone's side adopting a more practical approach to games, one which in the past has brought them so much success.
Atletico have won each of their last three league games without conceding, and there was a time when that was the norm, before a slightly more expansive approach perhaps left them a little more vulnerable defensively.
The Copa Del Rey draw has pitted them against Eibar in the quarter finals, a side they beat 2-0 in the Basque Country two weeks ago in a typically effective if not aethestically brilliant performance.
Los Armeros head to the Vicente Calderon determined to enjoy a historic experience with the Basque minnows into the last eight of the competition for the first time, and given they are 14 points clear of the relegation zone in La Liga, they might even permit themselves to prioritise this tie over their weekend fixture at Valencia.
However strong a side Jose Mendilibar fields on Thursday night though, Eibar will still be rank outsiders to win in a stadium where precious few sides have claimed a victory over the last few years and Paddy Power offer an away win at 11/1 (12.00). Atletico meanwhile are offered at 1/4 (1.25) with the draw available at 4/1 (5.00).
Since their promotion in 2014 Eibar have lost all five league matches they have played against Atletico, although they have managed to score on both of their visits to the Calderon. Three years ago they went down 2-1, while last season they were beaten 3-1 despite taking a second half lead in Los Rojiblancos' stadium. The question is therefore, will Eibar be able to score again, against a resilient looking Atletico?
The Basques' away record this term suggests that they can, with Eibar netting in 10 of the 11 matches they have played on the road so far, including at Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. Indeed at the Bernabeu, Eibar earned a 1-1 draw, scoring their first ever league goal against Real Madrid, and the price of 11/10 (2.10) for them to get on the scoresheet at the Calderon could appeal.
However for our selection we will back the first goal to be scored after the 26th minute at 10/11 (1.91) which seems a solid selection in a two legged cup tie. Atleti have scored their first goal after the 26th minutes in eight of their home games this season, with this selection paying out in each of the last three games between these sides. Furthermore as previously mentioned Simeone's side have looked more pragmatic recently, winning games thanks to solid defence rather than expansive, prolific, attacking play.
A final point to consider is that is Spain suffering from an extremely cold snap which will see sub-zero temperatures in the capital, which will likely make it diificult for either side to hit their stride easily meaning we should expect a goalless opening to this tie on Thursday night.
|First goal after 26th minute at 10/11 (1.91) for a 2pt stake with Paddy Power|