Goal glut on the cards
Our Andy Schooler is predicting plenty of goals at Old Trafford when Manchester United host Real Madrid on Tuesday.
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In my first leg preview of the Manchester United-Real Madrid Champions League tie, I wrote that 9/2 about the Red Devils looked big.
As it unfolded, United came pretty close to becoming the first team this season to win in the Bernabeu with Robin van Persie missing two late chances which could have given the visitors victory. Instead it ended 1-1.
Ahead of Tuesday's return leg, I'm again wondering whether the price gap between these two sides is too big - United are available at 11/5 to win the game in 90 minutes and thus book their place in the last eight.
Real, who have already lost eight times on the road this season, including at Borussia Dortmund earlier in this competition, are just 11/8.
The Spaniards shortened after last week's away win at Barcelona in the Copa del Rey when they displayed superb ability on the counter-attack.
Sir Alex Ferguson noted such ability in Monday's press conference, but the wily Scot will have been working hard to combat that.
Phil Jones' ankle injury will not have helped on that front. United won't now be able to deploy the England international to track Cristiano Ronaldo around the Old Trafford pitch he knows so well.
Jones' absence certainly affects how United will set up and is a worry for those thinking of siding with the hosts.
The loss of his defensive skills would appear to make an open game even more likely and Ferguson says he does not expect this game to disappoint.
"I think there will be goals; I think both teams will score," he said on Monday.
"We've got to think we will have to score more than one."
It's hard to disagree.
We've already mentioned some of United's chances in the first leg when Real's suspect defence was far from watertight - but it should also be remembered that David de Gea was kept busy by Real's attacking power.
Ronaldo, with a strike rate of better than a goal a game at Real, is always going prove difficult to deal with - even more so now Jones is out - while Mesut Ozil and Angel di Maria were just two other players to shine in the first game.
Van Persie had a quiet night in the Bernabeu but still had chances, Wayne Rooney will always be a threat and Shinji Kagawa netted a timely weekend hat-trick to show there are goals in United's midfield too.
Ferguson's both teams to score suggestion - something which has occurred in all seven of Real Madrid's Champions League matches this season - is no great price at 1/2.
The other goal markets may provide better value though.
Over 3.5 goals in the game can be backed at 8/5, while over 4.5 goals is offered at a tempting 19/5. Both look worth a play to me.
The two-legged format usually makes the second leg likely to produce goals and with both sides' strength being on the attacking side, goals should be expected.
Throw in the fact that the previous two games between these sides at Old Trafford, both of which were second legs of a Champions Legaue tie, resulted in 4-3 and 2-3 scorelines then this is the route I'm going down.
- The match is being televised live in UK on ITV.