Atletico may be underestimated as they go for the big double

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Atletico Madrid have enjoyed an incredible season, breaking the Barcelona and Real Madrid duopoly to top the pile in La Liga and Diego Simeone’s troops look to cap their remarkable campaign this weekend by adding the Champions League crown to their domestic title.

The performance in holding Barcelona to a draw at the Camp Nou to secure the Spanish championship encapsulated Atletico’s incredible year but bookies don’t appear confident that Los Colchoneros can go to the well one last time as they tackle rivals Real at the Estadio da Luz, William Hill making them 17/10 to ultimately lift the trophy.

Carlo Ancelotti’s charges are 1/2 at bet365 for European glory and 20/21 with BetVictor to come out on top in normal time but that price, not to mention Ladbrokes’s 10/3 about Atletico registering a 90-minute success, undoubtedly underestimates the underdogs.

Admittedly, Los Blancos were ruthless in putting holders Bayern Munich to the sword in the semi-final but Atletico finished above their neighbours in the league this term, defeated them at the Bernabeu and will come up against a Real team shorn of midfield linchpin Xabi Alonso.

Subsequently, it’s dangerous to write off Simeone’s side, overpriced at 2/1 in Stan James’s ‘Draw No Bet’ market.

Skybet mark 5/2 against the showdown going to extra-time, BetVictor quote a score draw at 15/4 and it’s 6/1 courtesy of to finish one-apiece.

If the clash does indeed require an additional 30 minutes at least, then from there it’s pretty much anybody’s and punters anticipating a dramatic finish like that in the Europa League, can back both teams at 10/1 (Paddy Power) to triumph via a penalty shoot-out.

Potentially crucial for Atletico could be the fitness of top scorer Diego Costa, who has struck eight times in as many Champions League matches this season.

The prolific frontman has a hamstring problem but if he features he’ll be well backed at 13/2 (bet365) to break the deadlock.

At the other end, Cristiano Ronaldo is an obvious first scorer favourite at 10/3 with bet365 and there’ll undoubtedly be money for BetVictor’s 6/1 shot Gareth Bale.

Stan James, meanwhile, offer 4/5 for both teams to score and Simeone’s men are 6/4 at betway to do so first.

Perhaps of less interest to a worldwide audience but actually worth more in financial terms, is the Championship play-off final between Derby and QPR.

The in-form Rams have been backed in to 11/8 at BetVictor to confirm promotion to the Premier League in normal time while Rangers are 11/5 (Skybet) and it’s 9/4 via betway to be all -quare after 90 minutes.

Given how much is at stake, the latter is set to prove popular but Steve McClaren’s troops have momentum on their side and can chalk up a narrow success at Wembley.

They’re 13/4 courtesy of Ladbrokes to nick it by a one-goal margin, BetVictor go 19/2 about a 2-1 County win, also quoting 8/11 about them going up by any means and they’re 7/2 with Stan James to seal victory despite an even first half.

On Sunday, Rotherham are 7/5 at Paddy Power to defeat Leyton Orient in the League One final and also 7/5, this time thanks to BetVictor, are Fleetwood, who tackle Burton Albion in the League Two battle on Monday.

In Rugby Union, Aviva Premiership outfit Saracens look to land the Heineken Cup for the first time as they take on Toulon at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

They’ll kick off as Stan James’s 11/8 outsiders to get the better of the French side, bet365’s 4/6 favourites but aided by a three-point start in’s handicaps, at 10/11, Sarries get the nod.

Having avoided a misconduct charge for attempting to distract Harlequins fly-half Nick Evans as he attempted a conversion in Saracens’ Aviva Premiership semi-final triumph at the weekend, winger Chris Ashton is Paddy Power’s 9/1 favourite to cross for the opening try and BetVictor post 7/4 against the game’s first scoring play being a penalty for Mark McCall’s team.

Switching codes and Wigan are well fancied as they face Salford in tonight’s (Thursday) televised Super League fixture, bet365 rating the Warriors at 2/9 to emerge victorious at the AJ Bell Stadium, where William Hill make them 10/11 to overhaul the Red Devils’ 14-point start in the handicaps.

Tomorrow (Friday), St Helens are worth considering at 10/11 (bet365) when starting eight points adrift of visiting Huddersfield at Langtree Park.

Bet of the week: Atletico Madrid to beat Real Madrid ‘Draw No Bet’ – 2/1 (Stan James).

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