The Betfair market might have set up Manchester United as outsiders in their Tuesday night Champions League tussle with Real Madrid, but Lee Dixon is backing the Reds on price grounds alone.
Manchester United aren't often underdogs for a European tie at Old Trafford but the Betfair market has made its mind up and Real Madrid are the jollies ahead of Tuesday night's huge Champions League fixture.
It's a sign of punters' faith in Madrid's recent return to form that the visitors are clear favourites both to win the game and to qualify from the tie.
And it's true to say that Jose Mourinho's men seem to have finally awoken from an almost season-long slumber in the last few weeks. Madrid have won four on the trot since drawing with United at the Bernabeu, including successive defeats of Barcelona in the last week. That sudden turnaround in form, coupled with first leg results, has made Madrid second favourites to win the Champions League @(5.60) with only Bayern Munich shorter in the betting.
But, while that form is promising, it does United a massive disservice.
Do not forget that the Reds are playing in front of a home crowd, have a precious away goal in the bag and are in fantastic form themselves. I was surprised to see United's qualification odds at bigger than even money and I think they are a must-back on value alone.
There's no doubt about it, this fixture is extremely hard to call and you can genuinely make a case for any one of the three eventualities happening - home win, away win or draw. United have been in rampant form in both Premier and Champions League and it's not every day you see Sir Alex's men as long as (3.20) to win a game. Then again, lining up against them is old boy Cristiano Ronaldo, a modern day footballing genius. With him on the pitch anything is possible and the loss of Phil Jones, who shackled the Portuguese genius with aplomb at the Bernabeu, is fairly major for the home side.
Opta tell us that two Champions League encounters between these sides at Old Trafford have produced 12 goals, and given the firepower on the pitch and both teams' commitment to attack, we can expect both teams to score, but it's certainly short enough @(1.52).
At a bigger price - (2.34) - I'd prefer to back Ronaldo to register on his return to his former ground.
Ultimately this is a match to savour. Anything could happen on the pitch and it seems there'll be drama from first kick to last. The home fans have been criticised in the past but they'll be up for this, believe me. There'll be some atmosphere beneath the Old Trafford floodlights and I'm really excited to be there to witness it.
It's a game worthy of the final itself as two genuine footballing heavyweights go toe-to-toe, with each capable of administering a devastating blow.
Stand back and enjoy the fight.