Champions League knockout play begins today in Madrid and this may be the most entertaining matchup of the round of 16. It’s certainly the highest profile matchup in terms of the ‘name value’ of the two clubs involved as English Premier League powerhouse Manchester United takes on Spanish La Liga mainstay Real Madrid. Even the managers of these teams are household names–Sir Alex Ferguson guides Manchester United while the inimitable Jose Mourinho leads Real Madrid into battle. This is the first of a home and home aggregate goal battle with the rematch next Tuesday at Old Trafford.
In league play, Manchester United is certainly better than Real this year having all but clinched the Premiership. European Cup play is a different animal entirely, of course, but the comfortable lead back home does allow Man U to give these games greater priority or at the very least the opportunity to go all out without having to worry about the English Premier League race. While Man U would certainly want to win this game they’ve not won at Santiago Bernabeu in their last four trips. That’s nothing to be embarrassed of since Real’s home field is one of the toughest venues in all of soccer. In fact, you have to go back to the beginning of last season to find a Real Madrid loss at home to a team other than Barcelona.
Compounding matters for the visitor is that the competitive relationship between Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex has been as one sided as the Roadrunner vs. the Coyote from the classic Warner Brothers cartoons. ‘The Special One’ has been beating up on Sir Alex for years–most notably while at Chelsea his team had a record of 5 wins 4 draws and only 1 loss against Manchester United. That makes this game a real uphill struggle for Man U to win but knowing the value of ‘away goals’ they’ll be interested to just be competitive. We look for Real Madrid to win the match but expect a lot of offensive fireworks as both teams are better on the attack than on defense. Look for both teams to score in a game that sails ‘Over’ the total.
Bet Real Madrid/Manchester United OV 2.5 -175
Bet Both Teams To Score -150