The Champions League may have thrown up some big midweek clashes, but we should not forget the Europa League either.
Virgin Bet Sports
Bet £10, Get £20 in Free BetsTerms & Conditions Apply
- New Sports Brand from the Virgin Empire of Sir Branson
- Bet £10, Get £20 In Free Bets
- Price Boosts on all Major Sports
Camping In Barcelona
Manchester United have certainly been given the toughest test in this season’s Europa League play-off round, now they will look to pass the first of two modules.
A Tough Exam
The league leaders of Spain being paired with one of the title hopefuls in England. A mouthwatering prospect it must be said and one that will be served up on Thursday evening, as Barcelona play host to Manchester United.
With the Catalan outfit finding themselves clear in the La Liga distance, they arrive at the Camp Nou in rather fine fettle. An 11-point gap at the top between themselves and Real Madrid and six successive league wins is testament to that.
As for the Red Devils, their record is not quite as impressive but that does not mean they should be overlooked either. Erik ten Hag’s men have only lost one of their last six Premier League outings and were it not for draws with Crystal Palace and Leeds, they would be right in the title mix.
With that said, they are still at arm’s length and with Arsenal facing Manchester City in midweek, the outcome could well open title proceedings to a third entrant. That fallout is to follow but first the visitors must make sure they do not fall out of the Europa League.
After finishing second in a group that also included Real Sociedad, United’s reward was more akin to a punishment in terms of playoff opponents and with Barcelona the one side that nobody wanted to face, ten Hag and his players have definitely been handed the short straw.
At the same time, if their Spanish opposition can be disposed of across two legs of Europa League action, then one of the favourites will have been sent packing. Of course, Barcelona will be looking at this proposition from a similar angle.
While one wonders if the Europa League is actually that important to either outfit. Yes, it will still represent European silverware at the end of the campaign, but when you consider where both sides are domestically, this may be nothing more than a nuisance in terms of scheduling.
Neither team needs outright victory to serve as a Champions League insurance policy but both teams cannot exit at this stage of the competition. Something that serves as an interesting conundrum before kick-off.
In fairness to Barcelona, their huge gap at the top of the La Liga table, affords them the opportunity to really have a crack at becoming another Spanish side that wins the Europa League and this may just give them the edge on Thursday.
With that in mind, our latest bet builder is now up for grabs, and it looks like this:
- Barcelona to win
- Robert Lewandowski to score anytime
- Both teams to score
For my latest bet builder offering, the spotlight is being shown on Robert Lewandowksi and with their not being a great deal of value in the anytime market, I have backed the Polish forward to open the scoring instead.
A goal that in my opinion helps Barcelona earn a first leg victory at the Camp Nou and swing the balance of power in their favour. However, I can see United getting a consolation goal to keep the tie alive and when you add both teams to score into the mix, this one is priced at 11/1.
Bet £10, Get £20 in Free Bets