If it wasn’t for Ross Barkley’s last gasp equaliser, Manchester United would have come back from Stamford Bridge with three points for the first time since 2012. Such is football and its never-ending pendulum swing, the game ended in a draw, but the positives were there for all to see ahead of Tuesday's crunch match against Juventus in the Champions League.
Relations between the fans and José Mourinho are not perfect, but they’re not at breaking point either. Their last two matches, against Newcastle United and Chelsea, have shown the Portuguese manager’s team capable of producing great moments, but the spectators need to see it on a more regular basis.
After the Red Devils’ mediocre draw to Valencia at Old Trafford last time out in Europe, they will be desperate for a win to cement their position in the group. This won’t come easy, against the Italian champions, but morale will be high within the camp and Mourinho knows he has to win.
For Juventus, who arrive after drawing to Genoa in Serie A, they will be more than content with a point. The Bianconeri sit at the top of Group H, with six points, so there is not as much pressure on Massimiliano Allegri’s men to come away with the victory.
Here are my betting selections worth considering:
I know what you’re thinking, but with spirits being at an all-time high this season in the Manchester United dressing room, and with Mourinho’s ability to dig himself out of a poor situation via the medium of big games, there’s every chance that this Champions League clash could be one of his many masterclasses.
Interestingly, Manchester United’s record against Juventus is perfectly poised. The Red Devils have won five, drawn two and lost five. No team is coming into this match with a better record against the other, which makes it the more exciting. The last time these two faced, back in 2003, United rose to the task in Turin and beat the Bianconeri 3-0.
Juventus are a quality team and will be respected when they come to Old Trafford, but something tells me that the players of Man United are starting to be released from their shackles. It might have taken the team to concede in order to pose a threat in West London, as it did against the Magpies, but when United started going through the gears, Chelsea’s defence were unable to handle them.
One of the current problems the Red Devils have is their inability to start matches well. For one reason or another, they are half asleep and concede sloppy goals. The urgency is not present until they are behind, which is not a method to go by against world-class operators in Juventus.
However, even with that being said, Manchester United are playing under the lights at the Theatre of Dreams, in front of 70,000 fans cheering them on, during a European tie - it doesn’t get much better than that.
The players might have felt disappointed for not grabbing the win against Maurizio Sarri’s men, but they should be proud with how they staged yet another comeback. Providing they take that momentum and attacking expression into this game against Juventus, I think Mourinho’s going to orchestrate a performance worth remembering.
Manchester United are 11/5 to beat the Italian champions in the Champions League with Paddy Power. A draw sees them priced at 23/10.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. That’s now two successive games in which Anthony Martial has saved Manchester United from the clutches of defeat. Last time, thanks to his two spectacular goals, the Frenchman staged an impressive comeback and was so close taking home the victory.
Martial has been criticised aplenty since arriving in Manchester as a 19-year-old, but he rose to the occasion once again in a highly-pressurised match with his ice-cold finishing. What separates the France international from most his age is his instincts; knowing exactly where to be at the right time is crucial to a forward’s game.
With four goals to his name in nine appearances in all competitions, Martial now equals Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba as the club’s top goalscorer this season. Having been taken off with 10 minutes to go, Mourinho will be hoping Martial is not carrying any fatigue and can reproduce the same performance at Old Trafford against Juventus.
I think Martial gets great satisfaction out of proving people wrong and, after a difficult pre-season which meant his relationship with the manager was taut, the former Monaco starlet is beginning to fulfil his potential on a consistent basis for the Red Devils.
Martial is going to influence this game and I think he’ll get among the goals again. He is in the form of his career right now and playing with such immense confidence. BetVictor have the Frenchman at 3/1 to score at any time, while Coral price him at 17/2 to score first and make a huge statement.
With Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford for the second time since leaving the club in 2009, there is bound to be goals. The Portuguese star - who is 11/8 to score during the 90 minutes with William Hill - found the back of the net for Real Madrid when they visited the Theatre of Dreams a few years ago, and if anyone likes to take centre stage, it’s Ronaldo.
In five of Juventus's last six Champions League games, there have been over 2.5 goals scored, suggesting Allegri’s men are prolific in front of goal. In fact, in all 11 of their matches this season, they have found the back of the net.
No team, whether domestically on continentally, has managed to keep a clean sheet against Juventus. And with Manchester United’s shaky defence, I can’t see Mourinho’s players being the first ones to stand in their way and frustrate them.
With a forward line of Douglas Costa, Mario Mandžukić and Ronaldo, United’s defence are going to be on tenterhooks throughout the 90 minutes. Unibet offer an enticing selection of 4/5 for both teams to score, while Bet365 prices there to be over 2.5 goals scored at 11/10.
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