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Rupert Wyman 7th Mar 2012 - 12:03

Europa League Preview

Both Manchester teams are in Europa League action on Thursday and Man United have a home match against Athletic Bilbao. United have won just four European matches at Old Trafford this season but they face a club known for being poor on their travels.

Man Utd are 8/15 to win in ninety minutes, the draw is 3/1 and the away win is 11/2. Athletic have never won on English soil and if you fancy them to buck the trend, you can back them to win or draw at 29/20 or 7/2 draw no bet.

Athletic have an immense history, they are the only other club other than Barcelona or Real Madrid to have never been relegated from Spain's top division. Their policy is signing players that are Basque born.

Athetic's star player is Llorente, he is a member of Spain's squad and he is similar in-style to Peter Crouch. For a Spaniard, he is big and powerful and he is 9/4 to score anytime.

The Match Winner is for Llorente to score but Man Utd to win at 7/1, it has been enhanced from 5/1. He could be a threat to a United defence that has shipped seven goals in four matches at home in Europe this season.

United are 19/20 to keep a clean sheet.  However, the bet could be both teams to score at 4/5, Ferdinand is likely to be rested and Vidic is unavailable through injury.

United are in Premier League action this weekend and they are likely to rest players as this is Europe's secondary competition. One player that is should start is Berbatov, he is 9/2 to score the first goal. He has been patient this season as he is behind Hernandez and Rooney in the pecking order.

Both sides are packed full of creative talent and I am expecting a high scoring affair (Over 2.5 goals, 4/6). Athletic may have never won in England but they are a great counter-attacking side. If they continue their league form, they may meet Man Utd in the Champions League next season.

City  take on Sporting Lisbon in Portugal. Mancini will want this tie wrapped up before the second leg at the Etihad Stadium. City's priority will be winning the league but they have a very strong squad and they should have too much quality for a stuttering Sporting.

The home win in ninety minutes is 4/1, the draw is 11/5 and an away win 4/5. The Portuguese side have had a poor season, they are fourth in the league and they have struggled against lesser sides.

The Lions are stronger at home and if you fancy taking on City in Portugal, Sporting are 12/5 draw no bet and they are even money to win or draw. Sporting know that if they are going to qualify, they must make the most of their home advantage in the first leg.

They will be without their best player Ricky van Wolfswinkel, he is likely to miss out through injury. Aguero and Silva were rested against Bolton, and they should both start. Aguero is City's star player and he is 6/1 to open the scoring.

The Argentine has so far scored twenty-one goals this season and he put away the winning goal against Porto earlier this season.

Man City have scored the most goals in the Premier League with sixty-nine and they have conceded the least, only nineteen. Over 2.5 goals looks a cracking bet at even money and both teams will attack.

Sporting lost away at the weekend to Vitoria Setubal 1-0 and City could terrorise the inconsistent side. City are 14/1 -3 goals and four or more City goals, can be backed at 17/2.

A Manchester City clean sheet is 11/10 and this looks good value and they are 7/4 to win to nil. Mancini's side reached the Europa League's 2nd knock-out round by beating the current Portuguese leaders 6-1 on aggregate.

Porto are a superior side to Sporting this season and a similar aggregate score-line seems likely. Although it is Europe's secondary competition, Mancini will not want Manchester's other club to win the Europa League. It is still a trophy! If you want a token punt, City -2 goals at 11/2 looks a shrewd bet.



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