Manchester United took their foot off the gas against Ajax, losing 2-1 to the Dutch outfit at Old Trafford and almost allowing the visitors back into the tie. Sir Alex Ferguson was critical of his players afterwards and you get the feeling that he won’t allow his side to be anything other than ruthless as they face Athletic Bilbao in the last 16 of the Europa League.
Bookies expect United to progress relatively comfortably, Ladbrokes pricing them at 2/5 to reach the quarter final and BetVictor quoting the La Liga team at 9/4 to make it through. Ideally, Ferguson would like to put the tie beyond Bilbao in the first leg on home soil, where they’re 8/15 via Blue Square to rack up a lead.
The Basque side will look too keep things tight to ensure they’re still in with a shout when the contest reaches their San Mames Stadium but their likely caution could lead to a home win ‘to nil’, priced by Skybet at 13/8.
However, it’s in attack rather than defence where punters should focus their attention. Sir Alex Ferguson clearly sees Javier Hernandez as a useful Europa League asset having used him in both legs in the last round and as the Mexican marksman struck in each of those contests he has to be fancied to make an impact in this one.
BetVictor rate Hernandez at 11/8 to notch at any stage but it’s worth taking a bit more of a risk on him to open the scoring at 5/1 (Betfred), after all, he took just six minutes to strike in that reverse against Ajax.
Manchester City defeated Porto 6-1 on aggregate in the last 32 so they have to be fancied to also eliminate Sporting Lisbon, who are 14 points behind their compatriots in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Javier Hernandez to score first – 5/1 (Betfred)