Man Utd v Athletic Bilbao: hosts to grab hard-fought victory
Manchester United may have got past Ajax in the last round of the Europa League but their 2-1 second leg defeat showed they are far from unbeatable at Old Trafford in Europe.
Admittedly, Sir Alex Ferguson rested several first-team stars, but the sloppy manner of the defeat was very unlike United – at least it used to be.
They look set to name a strong team for their clash with Athletic Bilbao this Thursday though and, with Wayne Rooney making a scoring return to the team against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, they should have enough to come through and take a big step towards qualification…
Man Utd are the big 1/2 favourites to win this clash but they haven’t had things all their own way at Old Trafford in Europe this season.
Prior to their Europa League defeat to Ajax, they were held by both Basel and Benfica in the Champions League.
However, Athletic have lost both of their previous two Europa League away games and are 5/1 to get a win.
While a win may be beyond the Spaniards, they have recently been showing some very decent form and have won two of their last three, so backing the draw at 3/1 may be tempting.
The hosts have struggled to keep clean sheets this season and have produced just two shut outs in their last nine games in all competitions.
In Europe it’s even worse, with Ferguson’s men shipping two against Ajax and Benfica and three against Basel.
With United big favourites, backing both teams to score at 5/6 looks worth a punt, while over 2.5 goals is also worth consideration at 4/6.
Finally, Rooney looks set to start for United and he is 4/1 to open the scoring having found the net against Spurs at the weekend.