Weblog: The football punter

United ready to hit top gear and see off Sevilla

Champions League last-16 second leg
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm 

Manchester United parked the bus in Seville but they should have little trouble hitting the Champions League fast lane at Old Trafford.

The 0-0 stalemate with Sevilla in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie has left United vulnerable to a damaging away goal, but Jose Mourinho's men are usually a different beast at home.

Liverpool and Chelsea have found that out to their cost on recent trips to Manchester and United are solid favourites to progress having won 17 of their 20 Old Trafford contests this season.

United played an unnecessarily defensive game three weeks ago but they should find joy up front with Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford in decent nick.

Lukaku was involved in both of Rashford's goals on Saturday and Paul Pogba's absence was barely noticed against Liverpool.

Mourinho has total trust in Scott McTominay to lay the defensive platform alongside Nemanja Matic, while David de Gea is an outstanding keeper which explains why United have conceded just seven times at Old Trafford in the Premier League this season.

Eric Bailly, own goal apart, made a solid return from injury and it would be wrong to assume Sevilla are as strong as they were when they mopped up the Europa League from 2014 to 16.

The departure of star director of football Monchi to Roma has hurt them in the recruitment department.

There are not many in the current crop who can be sold on for a fortune and mistakes have been made in terms of choosing managers too, with the sacked Eduardo Berizzo replaced by Vincenzo Montella in December.  

Sevilla lost 2-0 at Leicester last season to suffer elimination at this stage, a round of the competition which seems beyond them after falling at the same hurdle on three occasions.

Saturday's 2-0 home defeat to Valencia has left them nine points off the top-four pace in La Liga and they have chucked in some stinkers on their travels, suffering a 5-0 defeat at Real Madrid and an even less excusable 5-1 humiliation at Spartak Moscow in the group stage.

Montella will hope his side can produce the same kind of display that saw off Atletico Madrid 5-2 on aggregate in the Copa del Rey, while they held Liverpool to a couple of score draws during the group phase, results which will do them just fine at Old Trafford.

However, Liverpool let Sevilla off the hook in both fixtures and United, a ruthlessly efficient outfit, are unlikely to be so forgiving should they hit the front.

Man Utd -0.75 Asian handicap



The Football Site

Like on Facebook

Google +1


Match in Focus


Arsenal v Tottenham

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Arsenal have scored two or more goals in five of their last seven matches
Expert verdict
Arsenal came from behind to get the better of rivals Tottenham in the Premier League earlier this month and should frank the form in their League Cup quarter-final clash. The Gunners’ 22-match unbeaten run finally came to an end at Southampton on Sunday, but the club has been rejuvenated by the arrival of Unai Emery. Spurs lacked the desire of their hosts in the recent 4-2 defeat at the Emirates.