Manchester United’s quest to be crowned as Europa League champions continues with a quarter-final clash against Anderlecht.
The first leg of the tie is to be played in Belgium on Thursday night and, despite facing a crucial Premier League clash against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, Jose Mourinho’s men are likely to be fully focused on the task in hand against Rene Weiler’s side.
This competition was not considered to be one of Manchester United’s main priorities at the beginning of the campaign, but as Mourinho’s side find themselves engaged in a ferocious fight for a place in the top four of the Premier League, the 54-year-old Portuguese has identified victory in this competition as a viable route back into the Champions League next term.
The men from Manchester are chalked up as Paddy Power’s 19/20 (1.95) favourites to seize the initiative in the tie by winning this first leg encounter, with 5/2 (3.50) that the match remains deadlocked ahead of next week’s return leg at Old Trafford.
The Belgian league leaders will certainly not come into this clash lacking in belief; Anderlecht have lost just one of their last 16 home matches in all competitions – a 3-2 group stage defeat against Saint-Etienne - while Weiler’s charges have kept a clean sheet in six of their last seven matches on home soil.
Anderlecht are available at 3/1 (4.0) to make home advantage count here – a selection that would have paid dividends in five of the last six matches that the Belgians have hosted in this competition.
The meeting with Manchester United, however, looks daunting. Mourinho’s side boast the best defensive record in the competition, having kept no fewer than five clean sheets in their last six Europa League matches; furthermore, United will be in confident mood after cruising to a comfortable 3-0 win against Sunderland in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides certainly seem well organised at the back and, as such, it is little surprise that there is just 4/6 (1.67) that fewer than three goals are scored when these teams meet and 4/5 (1.80) that either side fails to find the net.
Anderlecht are competing in their first major European quarter-final in 20 years and the gulf in quality between the teams is reflected in the 1/6 (1.17) quote for Mourinho’s men to progress to the final four - there could, therefore, be value in backing the Premier League side to take a significant step towards achieving that objective by beating Anderlecht in Belgium in Thursday’s tie.
As such, the 19/20 (1.95) quote for Manchester United to come out on top could well offer punters a path to profit ahead of this crucial Cup clash.
|Manchester United to win at 19/20 (1.95) for a 2pt stake with Paddy Power|