Soccer fans in the U.S. will see a lot of Cristiano Ronaldo in the next month, though probably not as much as was shown this week in Spain’s Vogue magazine.
With the World Cup starting in Brazil in less than three weeks and Ronaldo’s Portugal set to take on the Americans in the group stage on June 22, the superstar who posed nude with his girlfriend for the cover of the fashion magazine’s latest issue will be an ever-present figure this summer.
The hype starts in full effect today as Ronaldo leads Real Madrid into the UEFA Champions League final against rival Atletico Madrid. The match for European soccer’s top prize, which features two clubs from the same city for the first time, will be televised on Fox starting at 11 a.m. PDT with kickoff in Lisbon, Portugal, scheduled for 11:45 a.m.
Real Madrid is a solid favorite at the LVH (minus-½, -110) as it seeks a record 10th European title and first since 2002.
“I think we’ll get a little more Real Madrid money … even considering Atletico won (Spain’s La Liga) title,” LVH oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said.
Ronaldo, who has scored 50 goals in all competitions this season, is expected to be close to 100 percent after removing himself from the lineup prior to last week’s final La Liga match. Ronaldo hasn’t played since May 7 due to an injured hamstring.
Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, is not as fortunate on the injury front. Forward Diego Costa suffered a torn hamstring midway though the first half of last week’s title-clinching draw against Barcelona and is considered doubtful despite training on Thursday. Costa accounted for 35 percent of Atletico’s league goals.
The clubs have met four times this season with Atletico winning 1-0 in September and settling for a 2-2 draw in March after Ronaldo equalized in the 82nd minute. Real Madrid won 3-0 and 2-0 when they met in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey tournament in February.
Without Costa, Atletico probably will concede most of the possession and soak up pressure while trying to catch Ronaldo and Co. on the counterattack. Atletico had the best defense in Spain this season, allowing only 26 goals in 38 matches.
The total is 2½ goals (under minus-135), and the possibility of a cagey, low-scoring affair also is reflected in many of the prop bets Sherman posted at the LVH. Atletico’s total goals, not including a penalty shootout, is set at 1 (under minus-165) and the underdog is plus-150 to score first.
As for Ronaldo, a “Yes” bet on whether he will score is at plus-110, and he is 3-1 to score first.
“We tried to put up some interesting props to try to catch the eye of the (bettors),” Sherman said.
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.