Bet of the Day: Manchester United to beat PSG in Champions League

14th September 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 2019


When the draw was made, back in December, this Champions League tie looked like extremely bad news for Manchester United and like a chance for PSG to finally knock a big name out of the competition. Jose Mourinho’s shiftless, clueless Red Devils against a Parisian side which was, at that point, still nursing an unbeaten record in Ligue 1 and had just come through a group featuring Liverpool and Napoli? Surely a foregone conclusion.

In the intervening two months, much has changed. In fact, within 24 hours of the draw Mourinho had been invited to clear his desk at Old Trafford and check out of Manchester’s Lowry hotel. Since then, Thomas Tuchel has tasted domestic defeat for the first time (2-1 at Lyon), and has seen injury deprive him of two-thirds of the world’s most obscenely expensive strikeforce. No Neymar and no Edinson Cavani, added to a United side resurgent under Champions League legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, means we suddenly have a very intriguing tie to look forward to.

Martial’s Art: A French Striker To Destroy Paris Dreams?

Under Jose Mourinho, the strikers at Old Trafford were underperforming. Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial, bought for a combined total of approximately £130million – or 65% of a Neymar – were out of form and sparingly used, respectively. Lukaku, for his part, has enjoyed only marginal gains since the arrival of Solskjaer from Norway. However, Martial has signed a new, long-term contract and looked like exactly the kind of world-class forward Mourinho didn’t seem to believe he could be. The Frenchman, still only 23, looks reborn.

With 15 goals from 20 games this season, Martial is enjoying the kind of scoring spree that fans were hoping for when he arrived from Lyon in 2015. He’s priced at 5/1 by William Hill to score first here, and those seem like excellent odds given the boost in confidence that has been evident since December. Those odds put him behind Marcus Rashford, granted, but the Paris-born speedster is liable to benefit from the closer defensive attention Rashford will attract in this pivotal game. With the England international typically chosen in the centre by Solskjaer, this seems like a perfect opportunity for Martial, who enjoys cutting in from the wing, to exploit any spaces.

Tough Times For Tuchel – Relatively Speaking

Losing at Lyon was far from a shameful result for PSG – it was an extremely tight game and could have gone either way. Of greater concern might be the fact that last midweek, Tuchel’s side visited minnows Villefranche in the Coupe de France, and were taken to extra time. The game, played in Lyon to accommodate a crowd which would have filled Villefranche’s own stadium seven times over, was eventually won in extra time, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that without their attacking trident, PSG aren’t hugely impressive.

From a position where they would have been favourites to win this game, Paris now find themselves dependent on the still-excellent Kylian Mbappe to keep them in this tie. Behind Mbappe, they’ve got a perfectly fine collection of players – but nothing earth-shattering. PSG are now very much not favourites to win tonight. Betfred have them at 21/10 and United at 13/10 – and even at that, we’d still say United are generously-priced enough to make that our Bet of the Day.

Be Prepared For A Fast Start

One of the most enduring criticisms of Jose Mourinho as Manchester United manager was the lack of dynamism in his side – frequently, matches under his management would seem like games of chess, as he sought to draw the opposition into making mistakes his side could exploit. This is one of the most marked changes in the new era, with Solskjaer’s United looking more like a team who will take the game to the opposition, and being ready to get stuck in from the first whistle.

PSG are used to facing teams that are considerably weaker than they are, and having the run of each game they play, and facing a whirlwind can have negative consequences for them. This could allow you to make use of the very interesting odds offered by Betway, who have boosted their initial 9/5 odds on a goal in the first 15 minutes of the game out to 12/5.

A tactic of shock and awe early on could be just what United need to really take control of this tie. They’ll be fully aware that they exited the tournament at this stage last season against Sevilla, having singularly failed to really impose themselves on the tie at any point across the 180 minutes of football. Don’t expect them to make the same mistake this season under a manager known for snapping up half-chances.

Bets of the Day

: United to win (13/10, Betfred); Martial to score first (5/1, William Hill), Goal in the first 15 minutes (12/5, Betway)

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