Man Utd favourites to reach final
Frank Monkhouse | 4 May 2017
Reds have two shots at Champions League
Manchester United can take a massive leap towards the Europa League final, and their overall aim of gaining entry to next season’s Champions League, when travelling to face Celta Vigo on Thursday in the semis from 8.05pm, live on BT Sport.
The Red Devils have suffered from a number of sloppy draws of late, and go into this clash on the back of a pair of even finishes in the Premier League, but they remain in the hunt for a top-four finish domestically. Manc rivals City are just a point better off, but it’ll be a catfight to overthrow them and take the final Champions League slot.
United’s drawing skills let them down
Those in power at the theatre of dreams realised this long ago, and having set manager Jose Mourinho a minimum of qualification to Europe’s cream next season, they will view winning this tournament as the ideal safety net. Easier said than done, of course, but two chances are better than one.
A goalless draw with City in the Manchester Derby last week was followed with an uninspiring 1-1 finish vs relegation-threatened Swansea City on Sunday. The Special One will once again be cursing his luck, and he watched his high-earning attack fluff their lines again, scoring just once, despite having 12 shots at goal. The summer recruitment drive can’t come soon enough for the gaffer, as he aims to weed out the underperformers and spend big on a young striker who can lead the line for years to come. Antoine Griezmann is thought to be the name at the top of his wish-list.
Another draw wouldn’t be the end of the world for the English side here, especially a scoring one, and we’ll give punters a handy 21/10 if you’re struggling the part these two. United are fancied to go and get their noses in front, with our football guys giving 13/8 on the away win, while those who like to play the long game and have the reds to qualify can fill their boots at 4/11.
Stats say go low
Followers of the stats will find it useful to know that United’s poor form in front of goal has not been reserved for league performances. Each of their last four away games in this competition have finished with two or less goals being scored, and having under 2.5 in your total goals bets pays 4/7. A play for your midweek accumulators, perhaps.
Not a bad option, judging by the trends, but players who wish to keep their stakes small and go for something a bit bigger may find enjoyment in the 1-1 correct score draw. Each of Man Utd’s last two away days at this level have finished that way, while two of their last three Premier League draws have also given us that score. 5/1 is certainly worth a play at interest stakes.