Mourinho’s Men Face Turin Test in Champions League This Week
Last time out in the Champions League, Manchester United welcomed one of their former heroes back to Old Trafford as Cristiano Ronaldo made his return from suspension to play a key role for Juventus in their 1-0 win over the home side.
In truth, the margin of their victory should have been far greater with the Turin side enjoying far the better of the game and it was only wasteful finishing, combined with some superb play by United keeper David de Gea, that kept the scoreline down to a single goal.
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This week, United now face the daunting task of the return match up in Turin, where Juventus will be even greater favourites to claim the win that will confirm them as the winners of the group and secure their place in the knockout phase after Christmas and the New Year.
For United, it seems the best they can hope for is second place in the group, but that also isn’t as straightforward as it seems. With Valencia drawing at Old Trafford, if the Spanish side can beat Young Boys at home, while United are away at Juventus, Valencia could move up to second in the group, and that would mean if the Spaniards can beat United on home soil in a couple of week’s time, they would qualify in second spot.
Therefore, it would benefit United’s cause immeasurably if they could put in a top-level performance and take something back with them to Manchester from the game in Italy.
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Let’s begin our Champions League tips with the big game in Turin on Wednesday.
Juventus v Manchester United
The biggest game of the week in the Champions League, alongside Inter v Barcelona, pits these two giants of the competition together for the 14th time. In their history, the game has seen Juventus win six times, United five with two matches drawn. Can United do the seemingly impossible and beat Juventus on their home patch?
It is worth remembering that last season Real Madrid looked set to have that onerous task, but in their quarterfinal against the Italian side, the Spaniards won 3-0 in Turin before an incredible game in Madrid saw Juventus go 3-0 up, before a late controversial penalty handed Madrid the goal they needed to progress into the next round of the tournament.
So, while it may appear Juventus are invincible at home, that is not always the case. However, with United not playing particularly well at the moment, and with this Juventus side having the benefit of Cristiano Ronaldo in their team, the task facing United looks huge.
In truth, even if United were playing really well, this would still be a very tough task, but the fact that they aren’t and so many key players are out of sorts, just makes this all the more likely to be a straightforward home win for the Italian side in my view.
Tip – Back Juventus to win to nil, which you can get at 6/4 with bet365 Sport.
The other three English teams in the Champions League are also in action this week and they too have some intriguing matches ahead of them.
Red Star Belgrade v Liverpool
Liverpool ran out comfortable 4-0 winners when the teams met in Anfield a week or two ago, and I am expecting the Reds to earn another win on the road here against a Red Star team that have looked better at home than outside of Serbia.
They did earn a creditable 0-0 draw with Napoli on the opening night of games, but that was more down to Napoli’s wasteful finishing than Red Star being a match for the Serie A side. Liverpool are a more clinical outfit when playing well and as such, I can’t see Red Star keeping a clean sheet against the Reds.
In contrast, I think Liverpool’s defence can do that against a virtuall anonymous Red Star Belgrade attack in the tournament so far and as such, I would be surprised if Liverpool didn’t claim the win here without the home side scoring a goal.
Tip – Liverpool to win 2-0 – 11/2
Tottenham v PSV Eindhoven
It’s now a crucial point in the Champions League season for both Tottenham and PSV. With both sides having just one point, five adrift of Inter Milan in second place in the group, these teams will be hoping that they can secure a win in this game, and Barcelona beat Inter Milan again, to keep their hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the tournament.
In truth, even then it would still require a huge effort for both teams, with the winner here also likely having to beat both Inter and Barcelona in their last two games to progress, a task which they failed to do in their opening two games in the group.
Even so, I expect Spurs to be the stronger side here, even if this game is ultimately a Europa League qualifier decider. PSV were fortunate to be the beneficiary of some poor Spurs defending in Eindhoven a couple of weeks ago. I don’t think Spurs will be quite so generous with their defending at Wembley on Tuesday night and with Christian Eriksen back in the team, I think their chance of win increase markedly with the Dane in the first XI.
Tip – Tottenham to win and both teams to score – Yes – 6/4
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk
At the same time as United are playing in Turin, their fierce rivals Manchester City, who they will face at the weekend, will be taking on Shakhtar Donetsk of the Ukraine at the Etihad. City won the fixture between the two teams in confident fashion a couple of weeks ago and after a shaky start in the tournament, when they lost at home to Lyon, City have been better in their last two games.
It is fair to say that City have not yet shown the same high level of performance in Europe that they show in the Premier League on a regular basis, but even so, the team should have more than enough quality to get a result against a Shakhtar side who can score goals but who also ship an alarming number at the other end.
For me, City won well in the Ukraine and I cannot see any reason why they cannot do even better in the home game between the two sides.
Tip – Manchester City to win by three goals – 7/2 with bet365