Europa League betting previews : Athletic Bilbao v Man Utd and Man City v Sporting CP

There is no stopping Manchester United when it comes to retaining their Premier League title this season, although Europe has been a different story for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team who look like being dumped out of the Europa League at the last sixteen stage

Athletic Bilbao v Manchester United latest odds, news and free bets

There is no stopping Manchester United when it comes to retaining their Premier League title this season, although Europe has been a different story for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team who look like being dumped out of the Europa League at the last sixteen stage.

The Red Devils will need to produce something special at San Mamés to keep alive their hopes of winning this competition and the manager is taking a strong squad to Spain as the champions of England attempt to overturn a 3-2 deficit from the first leg.

Manchester United are 6/4 (Ladbrokes free bets) to claim victory on Thursday night, although whether that will be enough to send them through to the quarter finals is another matter.

The visitors need to win by two clear goals and the good news is that Wayne Rooney is bang in form at the moment, having bagged a brace against West Brom on Sunday to continue his strong recent scoring record.

The forward has the bit between his teeth as we approach the business end of the competition and odds of 5/1 (Paddy Power bookmaker) about him scoring the first goal make plenty of appeal.

Even so, anyone who witnessed Athletic Bilbao’s fine performance at Old Trafford could be forgiven for thinking that 9/5 (Stan James) about a home win is pretty huge considering that Marcelo Bielsa’s team were full credit for that 3-2 victory.

Bilbao are on track to qualify for the Champions League next season and the former Chile coach has them playing an attractive brand of football that is likely to see them among the goal again on Thursday.

A goal for Athletic will mean United need three and Fernando Llorente is a class act in attack who is effectively keeping Fernando Torres out of the Spanish squad right now. He is a best price 6/1 to score the first goal of this game.

We might see an entertaining contest and Over 2.5 Goals is a best price 4/6 although the plain fact of the matter is that United are a 3/1 chance to qualify and this could be a case of heroic failure on the night.

Manchester City v Sporting CP latest odds, news and free bets

Manchester United face an uphill struggle if they are to reach the last eight of the Europa League, although the same does not apply to Manchester City who should be able to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit with a minimum of fuss.

Roberto Mancini played a strong team in Portugal last Thursday and really shouldn’t have lost the game although they will be confident of doing the same sort of damage against Sporting that they achieved in the previous round against Porto.

City are a best price 3/10 (Coral free bets) to win the game in ninety minutes and a slightly larger 4/7 (Paddy Power bookmaker) to qualify from the tie, a price that might seem big if the Premier League second placed team manage to get an early goal.

However, Mancini does have the added burden of seeing his team lose their place at the top of the Premier League thanks to Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Swansea and the Italian will also be missing first choice central defensive pair of Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott.

Perhaps that is why Sky Bet are prepared to go out on something of a limb and offer 5/6 about City leading at half-time and full-time against a Lisbon side that will surely be looking to score a goal at Eastlands to leave the home side needing three.

Sporting are a 9/5 chance on betfair to qualify from the tie and will feel confident of soaking up pressure from a team who are no longer playing with the freedom of earlier in the campaign where a hatful of goals every game was the norm.

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