EUROPA LEAGUE: Ajax vs Manchester United (May 24th)
Manchester United, competing in their first Europa League final, will be quietly confident of emerging victorious against Peter Bosz’s young Ajax side. The Dutch giants were once one of European football’s biggest clubs but this is their first appearance in a continental final for 21 years; an amazing statistic considering the club’s pedigree.
Jose Mourinho has given up on the Premier League and that could give United the edge in Stockholm. Ajax’s Eredivisie season is now over and the Red Devils boss knows that rest and recuperation is key to United’s chances of glory. At 87/100 to win inside the regulation 90 minutes, Mourinho’s men are favourites with 888Sport.
In the first leg of the semi-finals, Marcus Rashford netted a sublime free kick to give United the lead and he could be the difference maker once again. He has bagged 11 goals in over 50 appearances this season but, with Zlatan Ibrahimović out, Rashford may be set for a big performance in the final – and 17/10 for a goal is decent value.
Ajax are blessed with plenty of young stars and the Dutch outfit will do well to hold onto the majority of their squad in the transfer window. If you are looking for their most influential player, look no further than 19 year old Kasper Dolberg. With eight goals in Ajax’s last 10 games, he is in fantastic form and punters will be tempted by the 16/5 for him to score.
Eric Bailly’s suspension will give Ajax confidence, especially as fellow centre back Marcos Rojo is also injured. However, United should have enough quality in attacking areas to cause problems for Ajax and goals may well be on the cards. On paper, United should be winning this clash and Mourinho’s men will take some stopping in Sweden.
TIP: Manchester United to win and both teams to score @ 17/5
GOAL SCORER: Marcus Rashford anytime @ 17/10
CORRECT SCORE: Manchester United to win 2-1 @ 8/1
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Juventus vs Real Madrid (June 3rd)
On paper, this is an intriguing contest. One of the best defensive units in Europe will do their utmost to contain Real Madrid’s potent attack in what should be an entertaining affair for neutrals. Massimiliano Allegri’s side have been sublime for the most part of the campaign but Real will take some beating; although it is difficult to split them.
Gonzalo Higuain will lead the line for Juventus and Allegri will expect a big performance from their £74 million man. The former Napoli striker has been a revelation since joining up with the defending Serie A champions and he is well priced at 9/5 to get his name on the scoreboard in Cardiff.
As of May 15th, Juventus are EVS to lift the trophy and a low scoring, tight-knit affair would suit the Italian side more than it would Madrid. With Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli keeping tabs on Cristiano Ronaldo and co, Juve’s midfielders can focus on attacking rather than tracking back all the time.
Unfortunately for Juve, Ronaldo will almost certainly have an impact. The 2016 Ballon d’Or winner has turned back the clock this season and it would be fitting for the Portugal star to decide the outcome on the biggest stage of all. At 10/7 to bag his 47th goal of the campaign, he is well priced to lead his side to another famous European success.
Real must learn from their slow start in the semi-final second leg against Atletico. Handing a side of Juventus’ quality an early lead would be detrimental to their chances of snatching a 12th European Cup and Zinedine Zidane knows it. It won’t necessarily be a case of attack vs defence but the onus will be on Real to open up Juve’s stern defence.
TIP: Real Madrid to win in 90 minutes @ 8/5
GOAL SCORER: Cristiano Ronaldo anytime @ 10/7
CORRECT SCORE: Real Madrid to win 2-1 @ 9/1