Athletic Bilbao Man Utd Odds : Shock on cards as Ferguson calls up Ferdinand
While the Premier League will undoubtedly be the priority for Manchester United, winning the Europa League would see Sir Alex Ferguson make footballing history; as if he has not done so already, however the Red Devils must travel to inform Bilbao, and the home side’s odds of 13/8 will leap off the coupon for punters.
Having won both the Champions League (twice) with Manchester United and the Cup Winners’ Cup with Aberdeen, a Europa League title would complete an impressive European treble that can only be matched by Giovanni Trapattoni and Udo Lattek.
Standing in his way, however, is a resiliant Athletic Bilbao side who have aspirations of advancing to the latter stages of the competition themselves.
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A shock 3-2 victory in the first-leg at Old Trafford for the Spanish side means they will have something to defend going into the second-leg on Thursday.
It will be a tough task for United to turn around that deficit, but one they will undoubtedly be confident of doing if they can put in the sort of performance they are capable of.
United will go into the game high on confidence, having risen to the summit of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at the weekend.
In contrast to that jubilation, Bilbao fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Osasuna in La Liga on Sunday.
The home side go into the game with no new injury concerns, and will be counting on their star striker, Fernando Llorente to score the goals to get them into the next round.
Manchester United have been boosted by the return to form and fitness of England winger Ashley Young, while Antonio Valencia appears to be close to a return.
Nani is expected to shake of a niggle before Thursday’s game, and in doing so should take his place in the starting line-up alongside the likes of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez.
Overall, this is set up for a fascinating contest. United need to go for the win, while Bilbao will be determined to hold on, and possibly add to, their first-leg advantage.
This one gets underway at 6pm on Thursday evening.