Inter Milan v Atletico Madrid: Back hosts for shutout win

Inter Milan and Argentina striker Lautaro Martinez
Lautaro Martinez: Already has 20 goals for Inter this season

Serie A leaders Inter Milan have won nine home games without conceding this season and can repeat the trick against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday...

Inter Milan v Atletico Madrid
Tuesday 20 February, 20:00
Live on TNT Sports 1

When the draw was made in December, this looked the most competitive of the Champions League last-16 ties.

Two months on and that view remains, albeit Inter have hardened as favourites over that period - they are now into 1.625/8 to qualify.

High-flying Inter proving tough to beat

That's thanks to a winning run which now stretches back eight matches, one which means they've still only lost twice all season.

Simone Inzgahi's side are well clear at the top of Serie A with Lautaro Martinez having already hit the 20-goal mark for the season, the third campaign in a row in which the World Cup winner has managed that.

On Tuesday, they will face an Atletico side who smashed in 17 group-stage goals, a figure surpassed only by Manchester City.

That rather flew in the face of Atleti's reputation as a defensively-minded side but they may well have to revert to type here given the threat posed.

Atletico may have won their group convincingly but Lazio followed them through; the Romans are a mid-table Serie A team, not champions in waiting or, for that matter, last season's Champions League finalists.

The visitors are set to be without Alvaro Morata, the competition's co-top scorer with five, after he picked up a knee injury last weekend.

Atleti struggling on the road

They did at least end a three-game winless streak on Saturday when crushing Las Palmas 5-0 at the Metropolitano, although their away form remains a worry - while they've picked up 37 points from a possible 39 at home in La Liga, they've collected just 14 on the road.

In this competition, they won only one of their three away group games, failing to beat Celtic and Lazio.

That away record should be noted by punters, especially considering Internazionale's strength on home soil.

They've won 12 of 16 home games this season where defensively they've been very solid.

Nine of their 12 victories have come without conceding and that's a nod to where I'm going for a bet in this one.

Low-scoring home win the way to go

A win to nil is offered at 2.789/5 but a better way to go looks to be to back Inter to win with under 2.5 goals in the match.

Atletico rarely ship three or more and I'd expect them to go to Italy with their primary goal to stay in the tie ahead of the return leg where that impressive home record will come into play.

I doubt they'll be too unhappy if they lose 1-0 (a 7.06/1 chance in the correct-score betting), especially now the away-goals rule has been scrapped, and they've shown time and again in the past that they are capable of keep things tight when necessary.

The bet in question is basically backing Inter to win 1-0 or 2-0 and you can get 4.03/1 about that happening on the Exchange.

With Atletico having been shutout in in four of their six games away to the top eight in La Liga, this looks the best approach.

Back Inter to win & under 2.5 goals @ 4.03/1

Bet here

Turn to fouls market for 2/1 Bet Builder

In terms of the sub-markets and Bet Builders, I like the look of the fouls market here - Atletico certainly won't be slow to break this game up by illegal means if necessary, while Inter were the third-most fouled team in the group stage.

We've also got a referee, Istvan Kovacs, who is a pretty strict official.

Twenty-five of his last 34 UEFA club appointments have seen four or more cards dished out but while the layers are all over the chance of bookings in the card markets, I do feel there's value to be had when it comes to fouls.

Kovacs is averaging 24.25 fouls per game - well above the competition's average of 22.03 - and while that data sample is a small, four-game one, look back to last season and you find the same pattern with the Romanian two fouls above the average.

So, who can help us take advantage of this?

In the 1+ foul market, Axel Witsel and Nicolo Barella both look decent prices and they combine for an even-money shot.

Converted centre-back Witsel has landed this in eight of his last nine starts and should face a tough night up against Martinez and the pacy Marcus Thuram.

As for Barella, the stats show he's committed a foul in 10 of his last 12 Inter appearances and he'll be operating in a midfield area shared by Atletico's most-fouled player Rodrigo de Paul, who has been fouled more than 2.5 times per 90 minutes this season, while his position as the right-sided man in a three will also likely leave him tracking Antoine Griezmann at times.

For those wanting more, you can get the odds up to 2/13.00 by adding Inter's Hakan Calhanoglu and Lautaro Martinez.

Martinez has long been a feisty character and has delivered on this in 10 of his last 11 starts, while his Turkish team-mate has also consistently committed at least one foul, doing so in nine of his last 10.

Back Witsel, Barella, Martinez & Calhanoglu 1+ foul each @ around 2/13.00

Bet here

Opta fact

Internazionale have only lost one of their last 13 games in the UEFA Champions League (W7 D5), with that lone defeat coming in last season's final against Manchester City. The Italian side have kept a clean sheet in 62% of the matches they've played in this run (8/13), and only conceded nine goals in total.

Click here for more Champions League tips and previews!

Andy Schooler's P/L 2023/24

Staked: 20.47pts
Returned: 25.01pts
P/L: +4.54pts

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