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Get Real, Manchester United

Real Madrid ride into Manchester on the crest of back-to-back wins over Barcelona

Tobias Gourlay's rifled through the numbers and has found a case for Sir Alex getting one back over Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford on Tuesday night in the Champions League.


Match Odds
United (3.05) Real (2.44) draw (3.75)

Real Madrid ride into Manchester on the crest of back-to-back wins over Barcelona. The market believes the hype and makes them (2.44) favourites to become the first team to win a meaningful Champions League match at Old Trafford since AC Milan in 2005.

We're not so sure.

Jose Mourinho has won 8/15 European away games with Real and only two of the last six. In November he failed to win across the way at Eastlands. That can be put right in Monday's training session there, but this season's record on the road in La Liga will remain an issue (W6-D2-L5).

And there's a caveat to those wins over Barca: the Catalans' coach is in the US, receiving treatment for cancer.

United have Sir Alex Ferguson driving them in the right direction. The Scot has been tactically naive in big European games of yore - Ancelotti, Del Bosque, Toppmuller and Mourinho himself have outmanoeuvred him - but he's won 13/14 Premier League home matches this season and should know what he's doing by now.

This is what really makes us believe: after 1-1 draws in first legs of Champions League last-16 ties, the second leg has been won by the home team on 10/12 occasions.

Over/Under Goals
These two spewed out 12 goals between them in two previous CL encounters at Old Trafford.

Last season 11/14 Champions League second legs went Over 2.5 Goals. Recent seasons reveal a particularly strong trend for goals in the deciding games of the last-16 stage: 23/32 have produced three or more.

The price this week is (1.67) and you might even consider that generous. In those games we mentioned that follow 1-1 draws, 10/12 got over the line.

Both Teams to Score?
There is good reason to believe both teams will score - Real have found the back of the net in 31/32 CL games and failed to keep a clean sheet in this season's competition - but it's a shorter price and backing Over 2.5 Goals offers better cover for the eventuality of one team running away with the game as the other is forced to chase it. (Remember how lethal these two can be on the counter-attack.)

To Qualify
There are three ways United can reach the next round: win in 90 minutes; draw 0-0 in 90 minutes; draw 1-1 in 90 minutes and find a way through via extra-time and penalties.

The more goals there are in a game, the less likely it is to finish in a draw. Our research has uncovered so many goals that 0-0 is highly unlikely.

1-1 guarantees nothing in regards to United's qualification anyway, so although United are reasonably priced at (2.24) to make the last eight, the balls-out win bet looks best.

Best Betfair Champions League Bets
Man Utd v Real Madrid
Back Over 2.5 Goals @(1.67)
Back Manchester United @(3.05)


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