Will Sir Alex End Rangers European Hopes?
Sir Alex Ferguson takes his Manchester United side across the border to his native Glasgow to face a Rangers team desperate for a win.
Back to back wins against Group C outsiders Bursaspor have all but secured United's qualification through to the Champions League knockout stages but it is a completely different scenario for the hosts Rangers.
The Scottish champions lie in third place in the group on five points and must take all three points to keep their qualification hopes alive. From their two matches against group rivals Valencia, Rangers could only muster a solitary point. Their crushing 3-0 defeat in Spain gave Valencia a huge advantage as the Gers' now need maximum points from the visit of United and a difficult trip to Turkey.
The Red Devils come into this game unbeaten in Europe and in the Premier League, a domestic run that stretches all the way back to April. Too many draws have soured the start to the season that Sir Alex would have hoped for but after Saturday's comfortable home win against Wigan they are now level on points with Chelsea at the top of the table.
Walter Smith's Rangers team have only dropped points in two SPL games so far this campaign and despite a lengthy injury list, look a good bet to retain their crown again come May. A Kenny Miller hat-trick stole the points from a spirited Kilmarnock team on Saturday, the Scottish international making the difference in a 3-2 victory at Rugby Park.
William Hill make the visitors the favourites to win the match at 5/6 while for a famous home victory you'll find odds of 7/2.
The first encounter between the teams ended in a stalemate at Old Trafford. Rangers managed to stifle United with an exemplary defensive display marshalled superbly by David Weir and Madjid Bougherra. For there to be a repeat of the draw you'll get 12/5 while an exact repeat of the 0-0 scoreline is 8/1 on the correct score market.
These two teams do have Champions League history. The clubs met for the first time in the 2003/04 campaign with United prevailing 1-0 at Ibrox against Alex McLeish's side. The goal scorer that day was the not so renowned goal scoring machine Phil Neville. The price in 2010 for a repeat of that scoreline is 11/2.
The game on Wednesday should witness the return to the starting line up of Wayne Rooney. The scouser made a cameo performance at the weekend against Wigan but still looked a little rusty in front of goal, spurning a couple of opportunities that the Rooney of old would have snapped up. Rooney should be well backed with punters to find his shooting boots here and can be backed at 4/1 to open the scoring and just Evens to notch at anytime.
Rooney's absence has allowed the likes of Gabriel Obertan, Federico Macheda and Javier Hernandez to shine on the European stage for United. Hernandez, the young Mexican known affectionately as Chicharito, has been one of Ferguson's stars this season and is priced at 4/1 to score first. Obertan and Macheda are priced at 2/1 and 15/8 to score at anytime.
Rangers main man this season has undoubtedly been Kenny Miller. A hat-trick hero at the weekend the former Derby and Wolves forward has scored on 18 times so far in the SPL this campaign. Miller was a substitute for Celtic in both encounters with United in 2006/07 without troubling the scoresheet. Miller is 8/1 to break the deadlock at Ibrox and is priced at 11/4 to find the back of the net at anytime.
One player that could look to impress against United is Vladimir Weiss, on loan in Glasgow from Manchester City. The Slovakian international may start from the bench but would be a hero in Glasgow and on the blue side of Manchester if he can score the last goal of the game at 12/1 and earn Rangers the win.
We've two great Match Winner offers on this massive game. The first is for any Scottish player to score in 90 mins, so that could mean Fletcher for United or one of Rangers home grown contingent. The price for this first Match Winner offer is 2/1. We have also enhanced the price on a red card in the match. With the game likely to be billed as a ‘Battle of Britain' and Rangers may go into the game with a battle mentality. If you feel that emotions could overflow and a red card shown, get on at 5/1.
My recommendation for this game is a 1-1 draw. I feel that Rangers may get the early goal but United's class will come through and they'll get the point they need. A 1-1 draw is priced at 13/2 in the correct score market.