Champions League: Expect United to go through and Luiz Adriano to be on target for Shakhtar

The last week has been the most defining of Mourinho's tenure at Real Madrid

European football man James Horncastle fancies Manchester United to overcome their Spanish rivals. He doesn't think Cristiano Ronaldo will get a fairytale goal either...

"Only 26% of teams who drew the home leg 1-1 have qualified in 620 matches of the European Cup and Champions League since the 1970-71 season."

Back Manchester United to qualify at 2.28

Manchester United v Real Madrid
Tuesday 5th Match, 19:45, Live on ITV1
Manchester United 3.1511/5, Real Madrid 2.3411/8, Draw 3.711/4

Ahead of the first leg of their last 16 Champions League knock-out tie with Manchester United, we were told Real Madrid were in a state of crisis, they were perhaps more vulnerable than usual, even if they were a lot better than their position in La Liga at the time suggested. 

Jose Mourinho was under pressure. The dressing room was divided. But they weren't to be written off even if the 1-1 draw that they played out with United at the Bernabeu was heralded by the English papers as a great result from the Reds' perspective. 

Still, you got the feeling that it could have been greater and that United might be made to regret not taking other chances like those that fell to Danny Welbeck and Robin van Persie while David de Gea valiantly kept Real out at the other end. 

Mourinho was bullish afterwards. "Everything is open for the second leg and I think this will go to the last minute," he said. "If you ask me for a percentage, it's 50-50. We can score more than one goal over there."

Interestingly only 26% of teams who drew the home leg 1-1 have qualified in 620 matches of the European Cup and Champions League since the 1970-71 season. Add to that the fact that United have progressed in 17 of 19 European Cup knock-out ties in which they have avoided defeat in a first leg away from home and there's cause to back them to qualify at 2.245/4.

Ominously for United though, while their own form has been impeccable and they look set to break the Premier League's record points-total, Madrid have come on strong at just the right time. The last week was billed as decisive in defining the legacy of Mourinho's time at the Bernabeu. So far so good. He has knocked Barcelona out of the Copa del Rey, progressed to the final and beaten them in the Clasico in La Liga too. 

They have momentum as they depart for Manchester. Predictably the focus ahead of it is on Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford. Speaking to The Sunday Times, Peter Schmeichel reflected on his own experience of revisiting his former club for another team. 

"I went back as a player. It was horrible," he said. "Really horrible. Horrible to arrive at Old Trafford in someone else's bus, to go to the away dressing room, go on the pitch, warm up at the wrong end... It's going to be emotional for him."

Whether or not that has a serious impact on Ronaldo's game is up for debate. He still played well and scored a great header against United at the Bernabeu. But perhaps it's worthwhile laying him to score at 2.245/4.

Over in Germany, Borussia Dortmund are favourites to progress at 1.282/7 after they came home from Ukraine with a 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk. Fourteen points behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and knocked out of the German Cup by the Bavarians last week, the Champions League is now Dortmund's only chance at silverware.

Bayern's re-emergence rankles with coach Jurgen Klopp. He believes they've copied their methods. "It's a bit like what the Chinese do in industry," he said. "They look at what the others are doing and they imitate it, but with more money and different players." 

Can Dortmund go further and maybe better Bayern in the Champions League this season then? Well first of all they have to get the job done against Shakhtar, who warmed up for Tuesday's trip to the Westfalenstadion with a 4-1 win against Volyn. Considering how Dortmund defended at the Donbass Arena, you'd fancy Shakhtar to get something here and in particular striker Luiz Adriano

He became a father at the weekend and wants to mark it. "I have a great desire to score and dedicate it to my daughter," he laughed. "That's why I'll try very hard." So back him to do just that at [XX.X].

Recommended Bets

Back United to qualify at 2.285/4
Lay Cristiano Ronaldo to score at 2.245/4

Back Luiz Adriano to score in Dortmund v Shakhtar at [XX.X]

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