Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

The Punter: Manchester United can topple Real Madrid but won’t rule Europe

Patrice Evra, left, wants Cristiano Ronaldo, right, to return to Manchester United

The chances of an eighth British club in the Champions League final in the last nine years, are unlikely after the draw for the last 16 draw which leaves Manchester United, Arsenal and Celtic facing difficult assignments in their bid to reach the quarter-finals.

Bookmakers go 6/4 for a total wipeout at the next stage, but don't get caught up on that. United are more than capable of overcoming a Real Madrid side that has hit the buffers on the home front and even Jose Mourinho sees the writing on the wall.

He will be gone as soon as Madrid make their exit as they've no chance now of winning La Liga following their latest 3-2 defeat by Malaga, which leaves them 16 points behind Barcelona.

There is no reason why United can't justify odds of 15/8 to qualify, especially with the second leg at Old Trafford and by the time the first leg comes round in February, expect them to be much better and stronger than Madrid.

United have drifted out to 14/1 to win outright while's it's 10/1 for them or Arsenal, but that's unlikely to happen. Also forget the 3/1 for an all-Spanish final as the Germans will have either Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund in the decider. In fact, 16/1 on an all-German decider is worth taking a punt on while 11/4 on a German victory is a must bet.

British teams to reach last 16: 6/4 none; 6/5 one; 4/1 two; 45/1 three.

Winning nationality: 5/6 Spain; 11/4 Germany; 9/1 Italy; 10/1 England; 20/1 bar.

Champions League final: 3/1 All-Spanish; 16/1 all-German; 80/1 all-English.

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