After warning you against backing Manchester City at Southampton and explaining why 9/1 was still too short to bet on Wigan at Chelsea, MM gives you the insider’s guide to the biggest match of the season so far – Real Madrid versus Manchester United.
Plenty is happening elsewhere in Europe, while Bury host Sheffield United in League One tonight, so here are your best chances to beat the bookies this week.
Real Madrid vs. Manchester United, Santiago Bernabeu, Wednesday 7.45pm
Real Madrid (4/6, Blue Square); Draw (7/2, Bet365); Manchester United (14/3, Pinnacle)
The two biggest clubs on the planet, clashing in the world’s most esteemed club competition. What more could you ask for?
Well, as a punter, quite a lot actually.
First legs of Champions League ties are notoriously cagey and difficult to predict. Home sides often temper their attacking instincts in fear of leaking priceless away goals.
Teams on their travels are also always fearful of having too steep a mountain to climb when the tie returns to their home.
The dynamics of this one only compound the situation. United’s form has been supreme.
Unbeaten in 17 Premier League matches – now with a 12-point lead at the top – they will not be short of confidence.
Real, meanwhile, are languishing in third spot in La Liga, trailing bitter rivals Barcelona by a mammoth 16 points.
With 4/1 the price widely available on a United victory on the night, it is very tempting to back Sir Alex Ferguson’s team to win.
There is great value available on the wincast market, with Paddy Power offering 17/1 on a Valencia goal anytime and a United win. The Irish bookie will also refund all losing scorecast and first goalscorer bets if United win in 90 minutes.
But, the Spanish giants score goals aplenty and, despite their struggles, are unbeaten at home this season.
A 3-1 Real win, with them leading 1-0 at the break, is an enticing 45-1 with Paddy Power.
Despite their form, United remain a longshot to win, making a tense stalemate appealing for the first leg.
Draw half-time, draw full-time is good value at 6/1 with Bet Victor.
Tip: Robin Van Persie to score more goals over the two legs than Cristiano Ronaldo (11/5, Ladbrokes).
Bury v Sheffield United, Gigg Lane, Tuesday 7.45pm
Bury (12/5, Bet365); Draw (12/5, Betfred); Sheffield United (13/10, Coral)
Third-from-bottom Shakers host promotion-chasing Sheffield United tonight, but with Bury unbeaten in four, and the Blades having wobbled recently, this one is not a formality.
After an admirable 2-2 draw at Brentford, why not bet on Bury replicating that score, with Nicky Ajose scoring first? Bet 365 will give you 85/1.
Tip: Bury to be winning at half-time (5/2,Bwin)
Treble: Celtic and Liverpool to win, Valencia (vs. PSG) to draw (45/1, Ladbrokes)
Celtic will struggle to qualify against Juventus, but 10/3 is a huge price to edge the first leg at home.
At Zenit St Petersburg, resurgent Liverpool are an inviting 11/5 on Thursday in the Europa League.
Image courtesy of Gordon Flood, with thanks.
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