BILLY BUNTER

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Juventus set to do the double over United

Group H
BT Sport 2, 8pm Wednesday


Few fortresses are more impregnable than the Allianz Stadium, where Juventus have lost just two European fixtures since they moved there in 2011, and Manchester United don’t look anywhere near good enough to become the third.

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are the two superpowers to have triumphed in Juve’s new home, the only successes by an away side in 34 European ties there.

Indeed in all competitions the Old Lady have been beaten at the Allianz in only nine of the 188 matches they’ve played, a loss percentage of just 4.8.

Those are the kinds of figures that would daunt any opponents and United, in chronically inconsistent form, have every reason to be fearful.

Their backers might think that inconsistency makes them worth a few quid if they could reproduce the second-half performances they mustered against Newcastle or Bournemouth or the effort they managed in an impressive 2-2 draw at Chelsea. But Jose Mourinho’s men simply cannot be trusted right now and even at odds of 11-2 they can be overlooked.

Juve were magnificent at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, winning 1-0 in a match where the scoreline flattered United, who managed just one shot on 30 per cent possession.

That defeat, coupled with dropped points in a goalless draw with Valencia, means United’s Group H qualification prospects are on a knife-edge, especially if they lose in Turin.

That looks a likely scenario but as was the case in the first meeting, the margin of victory doesn't appear likely to be emphatic. One goal was enough for Juve in Manchester and a similar winning margin could be on the cards. You may prefer to lump on Max Allegri’s men at 8-13 but the 5-2 about the Italians triumphing by one goal looks the best bet.

It’s very hard to know which players Mourinho can depend on but he knows he needs a midfield three to stifle Miralem Pjanic and co and Ander Herrera has to be a more reliable prospect than the flaky Fred.

They can at least make life awkward for the nine-time finalists and don’t forget, Juventus have no need to take risks. With three wins to nil also pocketed they are virtually in the last 16. Indeed, a point tonight takes them through, a win secures top spot in the section.

Like United, who take on Manchester City on Sunday, Juve have a huge domestic assignment looking with a trip to Milan on the same day. They have taken 31 points out of a possible 33 as they chase down an eighth straight Serie A title and would like something left in the tank going to San Siro. Allegri has a fair few walking wounded, as well, and clearly won’t be keen on taking too many risks.

That might encourage United to think they can avoid a third straight European blank. It’s 12 years since United last went three games without a goal in Europe. A home win to nil is a 6-4 shot.

United old boy Cristiano Ronaldo, with seven goals in his last eight, is fit and at last firing in tandem with Paulo Dybala, who has six in his last eight. Dybala is 5-1 to be the first scorer.

Under 2.5 goals is a 10-11 chance and it’s worth pointing out that United have conceded only four goals in their last ten away ties in Europe, and never more than once in any of those.

Recommendation
Juventus by one goal

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Match in Focus

19:45 TODAY SKY

Ireland v N Ireland

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Ireland have two clean sheets in nine home games
Expert verdict
This will be a friendly in name only and looks set to conjure up goals in the first Irish derby since 2011. Both sides are out of form and bottom of their Nations League groups but will be motivated to perform under the lights of the Aviva Stadium. The return of Kyle Lafferty should be a big boost for the visitors.