Weblog: The football punter

Real can see off Spurs despite Kane threat 

Champions League
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm 

Tottenham have made a fantastic start to their difficult Champions League group but the trip to Real Madrid is set to prove a step too far for Mauricio Pochettino's men.

Spurs know only too well how difficult life can be at the Bernabeu having lost 4-0 at the venue in a Champions League quarter-final in 2011 and Real fully deserve to be considered strong favourites to move three points clear of the north London outfit in Group H.

A better bet, however, could come in backing Madrid to win a high-scoring game as the holders are prone to the odd defensive lapse and in Harry Kane Spurs carry a forward who belongs on the greatest platform in European football.

Even with Kane, and having finished third and second in the last two Premier League campaigns, there is a chance Spurs could be spooked by the occasion in an environment that is intimidating to clubs with better pedigree than Pochettino's men.

Real Madrid have won 11 of their last 13 European home fixtures in 90 minutes and 32 of their last 37 Champions League contests at the Bernabeu, while all 13 of their matches en route to successfully defending the trophy last term featured at least three goals.

Zinedine Zidane's all-stars are also unbeaten in their last 11 fixtures against Premier League teams and a forward line of Isco behind Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo is usually devastating.

Ronaldo and Benzema were both on target in the 2-1 success at Getafe on Saturday, when Zidane decided to rest key parts of his midfield engine-room with Toni Kroos the only regular to start at the weekend.

Isco came off the bench, while former Spurs schemer Luka Modric and defensive anchor Casemiro were not called upon and those three alongside Kroos often hog possession with their superb passing.

Pochettino has said he wants Spurs to dominate the ball at the Bernabeu but that is easier said than done.

The Argentinian lost all seven matches against Real Madrid when he was manager of Espanyol and Pochettino will need outstanding performances from his back three of Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen to stay competitive.

However, there is also the possibility of Spurs scoring against Real for the first time after firing blanks in their four previous meetings with Kane regarded as one of Europe's premier strikers having scored five times in two Champions League outings this term.

Playmaker Christian Eriksen is also in the form of his life and of last season's Champions League visitors – Sporting Lisbon, Legia Warsaw, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid – it was only Real's local rivals who failed to find a way past Keylor Navas.  

Real Madrid to win and over 2.5 goals

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Match in Focus

19:30 Fr 23Feb BT1

Mainz v Wolfsburg

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Mainz have lost just one of their last ten home games in all competitions
Expert verdict
Mainz earned a much-needed three points against Hertha Berlin last time out and they can add further impetus to their relegation battle with a victory over Wolfsburg, who parted ways with manager Martin Schmidt in midweek. Experienced coach Bruno Labbadia has taken over at the Volkswagen Arena but he's had little time to work with a squad who have won just one of their last 11 matches in all competitions.