Thursday 17th March. 7:45PM. BT Sport Europe
The stage is set for an absolutely incredible night at Old Trafford as Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils take on arch rivals Liverpool in what should be a thrilling Europa League battle.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were brilliant last week and certainly hold the advantage heading into this one. However, at 2-0, there’s still plenty of life in this battle and it should be an intense battle between these great rivals from start to finish.
Prepare yourselves for a classic.
Can Manchester United Save Their Season?
A late leveller against West Ham might have kept Van Gaal’s side in the FA Cup, but this has been a truly dismal season at Old Trafford and the Stretford End will be desperate to see their side turn thing around against their fiercest enemy. However, after losing the first leg and failing to score an away goal, the Red Devils will need to be far more effective than they have throughout the season.
The hosts are still without skipper Wayne Rooney and will be relying on the young talents of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to inspire the fightback against Liverpool. If they start fast, then they can put the visitors under pressure. But the real problem comes from the fact that they must not concede.
Just one Liverpool goal would force the hosts to needing at least four. The quality of David De Gea is arguably the only reason that they’re still in the competition, and there’s a strong feeling that the goalkeeper could have a huge influence here.
In truth, winning this competition is Manchester United’s only hope of Champions League qualification. Before worrying about that, they also want to get on over their fiercest rivals. Expect the atmosphere to be cracking.
Klopp Magic To Inspire Merseysiders?
The work is far from over for Liverpool, but Klopp’s visitors do make the short trip to Manchester knowing that the advantage is with them. Scoring first would kill the tie completely, and that’s exactly what they’ll look to do on the counter.
With the hosts attacking, the counter-attacking of Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino Philippe Coutinho should make the Merseysiders a very dangerous outfit. However, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Reds adopt a more reserved philosophy here.
Like their opponents, Liverpool know that this is their only real chance of Champions League qualification. Knocking out their rivals would also go a long way to healing the wounds of losing the Capital One Cup final three weeks too.
It won’t be easy, and Liverpool will need to be careful at a ground where they’ve shipped three in each of their last two trips. Nonetheless, if they do play to their potential, it should be the visitors’ name in the hat.
Manchester United v Liverpool Betting
This is a clash that could go either way but, with home advantage on their side, it’s Manchester United that enter as the 6/4 favourites with Bet365. Meanwhile, Liverpool are available at 15/8, and the draw is 11/5.
Thursday’s second leg is a difficult clash to predict, but we do think Manchester United will win over 90 minutes. Unfortunately for the hosts, it’s unlikely to come via a shutout.
Liverpool’s quick breaks will cause a constant threat to the home defence. As good as De Gea is, we can’t see him keeping a clean sheet. As long as the Reds do score, they’d be happy enough with losing 2 or 3-1.
Whatever happens, both teams will want to score an early goal. Given recent contests between these sides, we don’t think it will take long for the drama to hit top gear.
A goal before 31 minutes stands out as great value at 5/6 in this crucial second leg. That’s exactly where we’re placing our money.