Friday, July 29, 8pm AEST, Melbourne Cricket Ground, watch on Gem
Win Draw Win market:
Tottenham Hotspur: $2.70
Atletico Madrid: $2.34 @ Crownbet.com.au
ENGLISH Premier League title hopeful Tottenham Hotspur will be out to reverse a disappointing result in its International Champions Cup opener against Juventus when it takes on Spanish Club Atletico Madrid on Friday night.
The MCG will play host to its third soccer game in a week, after Tottenham fell to the Italian giant on Tuesday night, 2-1.
Tottenham took half a game to actually get into it, heading into the break 2-0 down, before superstar Erik Lamela – one of only a few first team players to make the trip – fired in a goal with 23 minutes to go that made it interesting.
But the understrength Spurs could not find an equaliser.
Tottenham left a raft of stars at home, including first choice goal keeper Hugo Lloris, Belgium duo Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, Wales’ Ben Davies and five England studs in Premier League golden boot winner Harry Kane, Delle Alli, Eric Dier, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino is on the record saying the club is paying little concern to the preseason competition, deciding to leave his stars at home because of the importance of health for the Premier League.
New signing Victor Wanyama was particularly impressive for Spurs and he will again be a key figure if they are to be a chance against the beaten Champions League finalists.
In the freezing conditions of Melbourne, Spurs took a long time to thaw out and would hope they would be better for the run.
But if Juve – who left 13 of their best players in Italy – was tough, they now have to deal with a side that was one win away from Champions League glory.
Atletico has yet to announce its squad, but it has all but confirmed star striker Fernando Torres will make the trip down under and he is set to give Spurs nightmares.
Another stud forward in Antoine Griezmann is also set to make the tour down under, saying: ”It’s amazing to have the chance to play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as part of our preparation for next season.”
“Hopefully we’ll have a packed out stadium cheering us on against Tottenham.”
Manager Diego Simeone appears far more upbeat about the opportunity to bring his players to Australia.
“The team and I can’t wait to come and play in Melbourne and visit a country as exciting as Australia, sharing with the fans its passion for football,” Simeone said.
“It’s fantastic to be part of such a high calibre tournament with some of the best teams in Europe and the A-League’s most successful side, Melbourne Victory.
While there are no odds yet on the first goal scorer in this game, we would have to go with Torres for Atletico and Lamela for Spurs.
Torres won’t be taking the clash lightly, saying he expects Spurs to win the Premier League soon.
“Pochettino is doing a great job mixing these talented young players they have with more experienced players,” Torres told the club’s website.
“They’re doing things really well.
“Last season they were really close to winning the Premier League and they are on their way, but in the future they will do it.
“Despite the difficulty of the rival, the player from the ranks takes on the challenge eagerly.
“It’s going to be a difficult test and these are the kind of games we like to play, so we’re really looking forward to facing Tottenham.
“It’s an amazing club, they have amazing fans.
“When I was in England, it was always special to go to White Hart Lane and play against them.”
“We’re really excited to go to Melbourne to meet our fans.
“I know that we have a lot of supporters and fans there, and clearly they don’t have the chance to see the team over there so it’s going to be a great opportunity for them to meet the team, the players and we will try to have time to meet them and spend some time with them because we don’t know if we’re going to have another chance to play in Australia.
“I think football around the world is growing so fast and from all the continents, Australia is not an exception.
“Hopefully the visit of Atletico Madrid can help to develop football in a good way and hopefully we can be an example for other teams going there in the future.
Match winner: Atletico Madrid to win ($2.34 with CrownBet.com.au)
Correct match score: Atletico Madrid to win 2-1 ($9 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Total match goals: Over 2.5 goals ($1.86 with Crownbet.com.au)
Bonus tip: Atletico Madrid to win by exactly one goal ($4 with sportsbet.com.au)
Make no mistake, these are two world class clubs. But there are vastly different rumblings coming out of each. Tottenham took a long time to get going, but looked like they would threaten Juventus in the end, but could not get the job done. They have at least had a taste of Australian conditions now and that should hold them in good stead, but it just feels like Atletico are taking a far more positive approach to this competition. Expect them to field a somewhat stronger outfit than Tottenham and squeak over the line, with the same score as last night. We think it will be a close affair again and like the idea of Atleti to win by exactly one goal at $4 with Sportsbet.com.au