Weblog: The football punter

United up for the fight against Juventus

Champions League
BT Sport 2, 8pm Tuesday

Juventus showed their intention to make a serious bid for Champions League glory by signing Cristiano Ronaldo but even with the Portuguese superstar in their ranks they may not be celebrating maximum points against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Bookmakers are giving Juve ultimate respect, rating them favourites to overcome Manchester United on the road, but this looks a tricky test for the Italians with the hosts fancied to raise their game.

United were so close to giving their season a serious kick-start at Chelsea on Saturday before conceding a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw, although Jose Mourinho will have been able to have taken plenty of positives from their best performance of the campaign.

Despite conceding twice, United nullified the threat of Eden Hazard which bodes well for the visit of Ronaldo and the Manchester men have kept successive Champions League shutouts.

United have lost only one of their last 22 European home matches, a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Sevilla, which was in part due to them having to chase the game late on due to the away goal rule.

There are still doubts regarding the Red Devils' rearguard, but if Paul Pogba turns up against his former club and can grab control of midfield there will be chances to hurt Juve through Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Stamford Bridge goal hero Anthony Martial.

Juve have previously been linked with Martial and Lukaku which adds spice to a fascinating game that sees Ronaldo and Pogba in action against the clubs where they became household names.

Ronaldo's goal against Genoa on Saturday was his 400th league strike in Europe's top championships and yet the perennial Serie A champions were unable to build on the early opener in a 1-1 draw.

That was the first time Juventus had failed to win this season with their record-breaking victorious run ending at ten, still surpassing their best previous start of eight straight triumphs in 1930-31.

Centre-back Leonardo Bonucci's arrival alongside Ronaldo strengthened Juve in both boxes over the summer and as well as beating Valencia 2-0 with ten men on matchday one they also thumped Young Boys 3-0 on matchday two with Paulo Dybala grabbing a hat-trick.

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However, the Juventus attack definitely lacks a focal point without the injured Mario Mandzukic.

Dybala prefers to play off a target man and Ronaldo, who has done most of his damage for the Bianconeri in a wider position, is the same. That explains why Karim Benzema was undroppable at Real Madrid despite rarely reaching the goalscorer heights expected of a striker representing the Spanish giants.

It remains a tough game for United, but as outsiders they are worth a bet to avoid defeat.

Man Utd +0.25 Asian handicap

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Match in Focus


Burton v Man City

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Burton have scored in their last six home games in all competitions
Expert verdict
Man City have effectively booked their League Cup final place after smashing Burton 9-0 in the first leg, so could be tempted to rest a number of key personnel. Nigel Clough’s Brewers still have pride to play for and have beaten the likes of Aston Villa and Burnley en route to the last four.