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Manchester United v Athletic Bilbao Europa League Betting Odds & Preview – 08.03.12

Ferguson aims for exclusive European trophy hat-trick

5th March 2012 / Lee A Jackson
Europa League

After progressing through to the last sixteen of the Europa League at the expense of Ajax, Sir Alex Ferguson continues on his quest for European silverware this season in Manchester United v Athletic Bilbao Europa League betting. United are in the position of playing at home first in this round, so they will need to produce a strong home performance, something which has been lacking this season in Europe. They produced only one win at home in the Champions League group stage, being held to draws by Benfica and FC Basel, and then suffering a 2-1 reverse against Ajax on a nervy night at Old Trafford in the last round of the Europa League. So United scraped through that tie, in what was far more of an uncomfortable ride than expected, but Ferguson put all of that down to inexperience, which really doesn’t totally add up because he admitted that his side is getting better and better. Still, we can start with a look at United’s home record against Spanish sides in Europa, and the Red Devils have a W8 D9 L2 record against Spanish opposition in Manchester, and overall, they have a W111 D17 L13 against Spanish team. United have of course, lost two of the last three Champions League finals against Barcelona, but aside from that, United haven’t been explosive against Spanish teams, scoring just four in their last eight meetings with Spanish sides (excluding the two Barcelona finals). It has been almost twenty years since Manchester United were at this stage of the UEFA Cup, and it has been fifty years since the two sides have come together. The defeat at Old Trafford against Ajax was the first time that United have lost at home in the UEFA Cup (in any of its formats). Sir Alex Ferguson himself has something special on the line, he is line to be just the third manager to win all three European trophies.

Sporting v Manchester City Europa League betting could then produce an interesting evening at Old Trafford, if United fail to raise their game. They really won’t want to concede away goals ahead of the second leg. So this could be a trickier occasion than they would like. Athletic have meet English opposition fourteen times in their European history, and they haven’t come out of it too well. Sporting have won just three of their four encounters, drawing four and losing seven, and over in England, they have managed no wins, one draw and six defeats. Athletic are actually doing alight in La Liga, so they should not be totally underestimated. They are four in the table and are unbeaten in their last three matches. They won on the weekend to take some confidence into Thursday evening’s fixture, beating Real Sociedad 2-0. The main strike figure for Athletic is Spanish international Fernando Llorente, who is top scorer for Bilbao and whose speed and height could cause the United back line some problems, especially set pieces, as the Spaniards will try and test United keeper David de Gea in that area. But still, United are in great form at the moment and they will favourites to progress. They just need a steady start and a better night at home than they have produced for most of this season in Europe.

Manchester United v Athletic Bilbao Europa League betting odds
Man Utd to win: 8/15 at Paddy Power
Draw: 16/5 at Bet Victor
Athletic Bilbao: 6/1 at SkyBet

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