Sevilla v Manchester United Betting Tips: Lukaku worthy favourite to strike for Mourinho’s men

With question marks still lingering over his performances in big games, Romelu Lukaku will be aiming to prove a point when Manchester United visit the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to take on Sevilla in Wednesday’s Champions League clash.

The Belgium international reached the 20-goal mark for the season with a double against Huddersfield in the FA Cup, although only one of those strikes has come against a team in the Premier League’s top 10.

Lukaku the favourite

Nevertheless, Lukaku has four goals in six Champions League matches this season and is ‘s 11/2 (6.50) favourite to open the scoring in Spain.

That price looks rather appealing for a striker with six goals from his last eight appearances, with 15/8 (2.88) anytime odds surely worth backing at the very least.

Wissam Ben Yedder, Sevilla

Only two of Lukaku’s current teammates found the net from open play in the group stages, so Alexis Sanchez will need to hit the ground running for Jose Mourinho’s team.

Having scored 11 times in 25 European games for Arsenal, the January signing is available at 21/10 (3.10) to score on his Champions League debut for his new club.

Alternatively, Marcus Rashford can be backed at 12/5 (3.40) to score for just the second time in 14 matches, having hit three goals from two starts in the previous round.

Ben Yedder to find form?

At the other end of the pitch, Wissam Ben Yedder will also be hoping to rediscover his touch in a competition that has proved particularly fruitful so far.

The Frenchman is Los Rojiblancos’ favourite at 11/2 (6.50) to break the deadlock with a ninth goal in nine Champions League fixtures this season, and priced at 7/4 (2.75) to strike anytime.

Sevilla Man United goalscorer graphic

However, Ben Yedder’s poor recent form of one goal in seven games means he is not even guaranteed to start up front, with Vincenzo Montella instead favouring Luis Muriel.

Although yet to score in this season’s competition, the Colombia international is on offer at 21/10 (3.10) to get off the mark at the best possible moment in this knockout clash.

Finally, Pablo Sarabia offers a tempting longer shot at 4/1 (5.00) after getting on the scoresheet in five of his last eight appearances.

Betting Banner - Best BetLukaku to score anytime at 15/8 (2.88) with for a 1pt stake

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Bailey: I’ll make Man Utd and Arsenal wait until I’m ready

Bayer Leverkusen striker Leon Bailey has indicated that he is prepared to make his long list of suitors wait, as he is not willing to depart before he has developed sufficiently.

The 20-year-old attacker moved from Genk to Leverkusen for €13.5 million last summer and is under contract with the Bundesliga outfit until 2022. 

His outstanding form this season has seen him net nine times in 20 outings and attract attention from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, with Milan, Manchester United and Arsenal among the teams leading the chase to sign him. 

And while he does want to reach the highest level eventually, he is in no rush to leave his current home.

“Leverkusen is perfect for me,” he told Bild. “I want to develop and then I can take the next step.

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“When I move to a big club, the people there will want to know me. I want to make a name for myself at the highest level.”

Leverkusen are a club with a reputation of falling at the final hurdle, thereby depriving themselves of success. Over the years, they have earned the moniker ‘Neverkusen’ due to their inability to lift silverware. 

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Bailey, though, is determined to put this title to bed, having helped the side into fourth in the Bundesliga but more notably into the semi-finals of the DFB Pokal.

“If we go to the cup final, we’ll win it, I promise,” he said. “That would be the end of Neverkusen.”

Leverkusen have won the cup only once before, in 1992-93, while their only other major title is the UEFA Cup of 1987-88.

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Chelsea just need better luck in Barcelona, says Azpilicueta

Cesar Azpilicueta hopes the footballing gods smile more kindly on Chelsea when they head to Barcelona for their Champions League last-16 second leg.

Antonio Conte’s side put in an impressive performance in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge and took the lead just after the hour through Willian, who had already struck both posts in the first half.

But with 15 minutes remaining the La Liga leaders took advantage of Andreas Christensen’s wayward pass, Andres Iniesta getting in ahead of Azpilicueta to tee up Lionel Messi to sweep home in clinical fashion.

Conte felt Chelsea were close to the perfect game against Barca, and Azpilicueta is hoping for a greater deal of fortune in the return at Camp Nou in three weeks.

“[We approach the game] like we played today, we created more chances,” he told reporters.

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“They control the ball, that’s normal, that’s how they play. We created the most dangerous chances and we were the ones that could have won.

“We have to defend as a team and we must attack and hurt them like we did today. We hope to get better luck in Barcelona.”

Thibaut Courtois and Marcos Alonso echoed the sentiments of their team-mate, the goalkeeper pointing to the obvious threat posed by Barca’s talisman.

“We have to defend well, we will try to keep Messi as far away as we can from the goal, and then I believe we have the level to go forward and to score and to make them doubt,” Courtois said.

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“We know playing in that stadium is very hard, they have great games where they score a lot but it’s my task to avoid that.”

Alonso added: “For sure, it will be more difficult than today, there. As a team we’re satisfied with this match and excited to go there.

“Barcelona is the favourite, especially in their stadium. But, we don’t give up and Chelsea will face them there.”

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‘The Messi of goalkeepers’! Who is Alisson, the Roma phenomenon valued at €70m?

Alisson Becker doesn’t make many mistakes. However, shortly after joining Roma, he appeared on a Brazilian talk show and was asked if he had learned any Italian swear words. 

“I said some terrible things without realising how bad they were,” the goalkeeper admitted. “Once I did know, it was too late!”

Alisson would have been forgiven for relying almost exclusively on swear words during his first, frustrating year in the Italian capital. Despite his arrival from his native Brazil as the Selecao’s first-choice goalkeeper, Roma coach Luciano Spalletti stuck with Wojciech Szczesny as his No.1. 

​Alisson preferred to look on the bright side, though. 

“It did feel a little lonely at first, but then I got to spend more time with my wife,” he explained. “She was pregnant and so I got to focus less on my career.

“I worked hard in training and learned a lot alongside a great goalkeeper like Szczesny.”

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Restricted only to appearances in the cup competitions, Alisson’s lack of game time became a major talking point in Brazil, with many pundits arguing that Ederson should be the Selecao’s No.1. 

Alisson, though, never let Brazil down, conceding just three goals in 11 appearances in the World Cup qualifiers under new coach Tite. As a result, he never felt compelled to go running to either Spalletti or the press to complain about his situation at the Stadio Olimpico.

“I wasn’t playing much due to the coach’s decision but I am a calm boy and I don’t like talking,” he confessed. “I didn’t feel comfortable going to him and saying things because he chose to have two high-level keepers and he played me in the cups.

“He used meritocracy because Szczesny had done well during the first year but let’s say that I learned to have a bit of patience.”

Alisson Messi PS

However, Alisson knew that with a World Cup year approaching, he needed to be playing regular league football to fend off the intense competition he was under for his Selecao shirt from Manchester City ace Ederson. Consequently, he seriously considered leaving Roma until it emerged that Szczesny was off to Juventus.

“This is the most important year of my career,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave, but I would have had to think of myself and my targets.

“Now I know that everything depends on me and my performances. Nobody in Brazil, in a World Cup year, has a guaranteed place.”

Alisson, though, could not be doing much more to solidify his status as Brazil’s best goalkeeper. There was never any doubt of him being installed as Roma’s No.1 for the 2017-18 campaign.

“When I saw him on the pitch, I was stunned by his presence and the calmness he brought to the entire team,” enthused new coach Eusebio Di Francesco.

Alisson Stats PS

So, while Roma may not have the best defence in Serie A this season, they do possess the best goalkeeper. Indeed, nobody has kept more clean sheets this season than Alisson (11).

His shot-stopping skills are exceptional. He has made 98 saves in all competitions this term – more than the likes of Szczesny, Jan Oblak and Marc-Andre ter Stegen – and, in terms of save percentage, he ranks fourth (79.7%) among those goalkeepers to have played at least 20 games in Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues, just behind David de Gea (82.3%), Ter Stegen (83.5%) and Oblak (85.9%).

“The way he behaves in the goal, he reminds me of Dino Zoff,” enthuses former Roma coach Roberto Negrisolo. “I’d also compare him to Michel Preud-Homme, who had the class of someone born to be a goalkeeper.

“I told Alisson when I met him at Roma’s Trigoria ground that he was born for this. He was already strong when he arrived, but has improved even more since he has been in Italy, especially when coming out low to get the ball. Now he is far more decisive in those situations.”

Indeed, the most common criticisms levelled at Alisson when he first broke into the Brazil squad were that he was slow off his line and poor with his distribution of the ball.

GKs Save Percentage PS

He has improved dramatically in both areas since arriving in Serie A. In the ‘Big Five’ leagues, only Hugo Lloris (32) and Ederson (39) have acted as a sweeper-keeper more times this season than Allison (28), while his pass accuracy of 80.9% puts the likes of De Gea (57.3) and Oblak (48.1%) to shame.

As he underlined with his expletive-laden appearance on Brazilian TV, he is a pretty fast learner and, at 25, he is only going to get better, which is partly why Liverpool were ready to sign him for €70 million until manager Jurgen Klopp decided to put his faith in Loris Karius.

Negrisolo, though, is adamant that Alisson would be worth every penny, arguing that he has everything required to become the greatest goalkeeper of his generation.

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“I don’t think many people have realised who Alisson is,” he argued. “This guy is a phenomenon. He is the number one of number ones.

“He is the Messi of goalkeepers, because he has the same mentality as Messi. He is a goalkeeper who can define an era.”

Liverpool could easily end up cursing their decision not to sign him.

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What has happened to Neymar’s ‘older brother’? Why Ganso failed to become a superstar

After taking so long to make it to Europe, the pairing of mercurial playmaker Ganso and a Sevilla side winning plaudits across the continent under the swashbuckling leadership of Jorge Sampaoli looked a match made in heaven. The marriage, however, has turned sour after just 12 months, meaning another false start for a player whose attitude has constantly betrayed his outrageous talents.

The arrival of the more pragmatic Vincenzo Montella at the Sanchez Pizjuan acted as the final death knell for a move that never quite realised its potential even alongside Sampaoli and his successor, Eduardo Berizzo. Ganso, 28, has not made a single appearance since the Italian walked through the gates of the Liga club, and barring some sort of miracle will be watching from afar once more on Wednesday when Sevilla host Manchester United in their Champions League encounter.

He wants out of the club immediately, as agent Giuseppe Dioguardi recognised publicly at the start of February. “I have proposed the immediate termination [of Ganso’s contract],” Dioguardi stated following a meeting with those in charge at the club.

“I have said that his numbers show the player has what it takes to be a star in Spain, he just needs minutes.”

Nobody who has paid close attention to Ganso’s career from its beginnings as teenage Neymar’s partner in crime at Santos would dispute his talent. At his best the lanky, languid No. 10 is a joy to watch, controlling the tempo of Sevilla’s attack with an insolent flick of the boot or shake of the hips and filling infinite Youtube highlight reels with his tricks.

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Indeed, after countless fitness problems over the years it appeared that at the start of the current season the Brazilian was ready to finally make the breakthrough. Ganso started all five of the Andalucians’ opening Liga fixtures, scoring twice and wowing fans as Sevilla won four and drew one in that period to make a clear statement of their title intentions.

“He is working at a different rhythm, he has made a great effort to break into the team and I am overjoyed with his form,” Berizzo said of his enigmatic talent back in September. It proved a false dawn, however. Ganso then disappeared from the first team for two whole months, and since September has started just two matches and scored once, a dramatic equaliser to peg back Maribor in the Champions League.

Now, with Berizzo gone and Sevilla slowly piecing together a season that had fallen apart towards the end of 2017, Ganso would appear to be wholly surplus to requirements. And there are few takers elsewhere, either; on a recent trip to Portugal Dioguardi offered his client to Porto, Benfica and Sporting, and failed to attract interest from either of the three giants.

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“Sporting are not involved and have no interest,” club coach Jorge Jesus signalled when asked about the player. “I know him well, like everyone in Brazilian football. He was part of a great team in Santos with Neymar.

“He is creative, strong with set-pieces, but not very intense for European football.” Jesus may have touched on Ganso’s fatal flaw: in a game which favours physical intensity above all else, his lackadaisacal elegance just has no place.

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Standing majestically upright when he takes the field, head perched on the long neck to which he owes his nickname (‘Goose’ in Portuguese), Ganso above all else prides himself on his vision. Now he must use that impeccable sight to take a long, hard look at himself.

Neymar’s ‘big brother’ had it all to be one of the best. But while the current PSG superstar realised that incredible natural ability alone would not be enough to cut it in Europe; he worked arduously on the physical side of the game, putting in the hard yards and making himself an asset first to Barcelona, and now the Ligue 1 leaders.

Ganso has not been able to make the same jump and wed his natural feel for the game with the application necessary to establish himself among the elite. If he does not learn the lesson soon it may be too late, leaving him as one of the clearest cases of wasted potential of the last decade.

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