Throughout the season, news.bwin.com/en/ will be bringing you its brand new ‘Shouting the Odds’ feature, where two of our experts go head-to-head to put forward the credentials of each team in any given fixture.
With the Champions League roaring back into view this week, our first-ever article of this type focuses on tonight’s clash between Benfica and Manchester United. Joining news.bwin.com/en/ editor Chris Bryant to ‘shout the odds’ are Ashley Mealor, who will argue the case for the Portuguese giants, and Tim Lesnik, who will be fighting the Red Devils’ corner.
CB: So Fergie’s men are up and running for another tilt at the title and are priced at evens to start with a win tonight. Will they do it?
TL: I think so. They’ve been incredible in the first few weeks of the season and I can’t see them dropping any points tonight, even if they make a few changes to their starting line-up. Their squad is so powerful. They can bring in players like Antonio Valencia, Ji-Sung Park, Ryan Giggs and Dimitar Berbatov – it’s frightening really. Whatever team they put out should be good enough to win and I’d be tempted by the prospect of doubling my money on that particular outcome.
AM: Well, it’s easy to see why United will be favourites, but don’t completely rule out Benfica. They got to the semi-finals of the Europa League last season and have started their domestic campaign pretty well, just like United. There will be a hot atmosphere at the Estadio do Luz and the natives will be looking for a repeat of the 2-1 win Benfica achieved over United in the group stages six years ago. They are perhaps not quite long enough to back at 13/5, but the draw seems well priced at 12/5.
CB: Most of the talk in the build-up has been about the form of Wayne Rooney – do you see him being a major factor tonight?
TL: You just can’t ignore him, he’s absolutely on fire at the moment. Eight goals in four Premier League games tells its own story. I’m not sure he’s the ‘White Pele’ just yet but with Javier Hernandez back in the team, he will drop off and get plenty of space tonight. I fancy a bit of the 5/1 offered by bwin on him to score the first goal. He’s 10/1 to score three or more goals as well, as he has done against Arsenal and Bolton already this season. Chicharito is 6/1 to break the deadlock – that also seems like a decent price.
CB: So punters who join bwin.com and back Rooney to score first with their free £25 bet will win £150 if he does it – not bad. What about Benfica then, Ashley? Anyone United should be wary of?
AM: Rooney is obviously the man everyone will be expecting to get on the scoresheet, but I like the look of Oscar Cardozo to score at any time at 2/1. He’s a big, powerful target man with a venomous left foot and has already bagged four goals in three matches in Portugal this term. If United do rest players, that could make them more vulnerable defensively and Cardozo could well take advantage.
TL: Perhaps Ashley is forgetting that United didn’t concede a single goal in away European matches last season! I reckon this makes betting on them to win to nil tonight an attractive proposition at 12/5.
AM: All records are there to be broken and with Benfica priced at 2/5 to score at some point, the odds appear to suggest this particular one will be broken tonight!
CB: Now, now chaps. Play nicely. How about goal markets – anything jump out at you?
TL: Well, all of United’s matches so far this season (even including the Community Shield) have contained over 2.5 goals, so that seems the most likely outcome at 22/25. United to win and over 2.5 goals to be scored is available at 21/10.
AM: I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that Benfica will frustrate United in the first half. Benfica have been ahead at half-time in all four of their league matches so far, but have lost two of the second halves in those matches. United, meanwhile, have been better in the second half, scoring 11 of their 18 goals after the interval. So I’ll be taking the 23/20 available on more goals being scored after the break than in the opening 45 minutes. Betting on the hosts to be ahead at half-time could also be worth a small punt at 31/10.
CB: This is all good stuff. Final thoughts and recommended bets please!
TL: I fancy United to win this one fairly comfortably. And while their 3Way price is decent, I’ll also be looking at the 27/10 on offer for them to overturn a one-goal headstart or the very tempting 35/4 on them to win 2-0.
AM: So no-one is really giving Benfica a chance to win the match, but you can’t rule them out of winning the first corner at 21/20 or the most yellow cards at 4/5! Joking aside, I fancy them to give United a decent test, possibly a sterner one than most pundits are expecting, and I fully expect them to score on the night.
TL: Manchester United to win by at least one goal at 27/10
AM: Benfica to score at 2/5
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