Monday 22 May 2017

UEFA Europa League Final - 24th May (19:45)

On May 24, the Friend's Arena in Solna (Sweden) will host the UEFA Europa League’s final match between Manchester United and Ajax. Both teams qualified in hard fought matches to qualify for the final. History is in the making, as Manchester United have never won the UEFA Europa League and Ajax haven't played an international final match since the 95-96 UCL, where they lost against Juventus. 
The Dutch side is an interesting one: they play with the traditional style that the team has accustomed us to with Davy Klaasen as the key in the midfield. Klaasen is a versatile player, with technique, almost every play from Ajax is built around him. The midfielders contantly pressure the opposing side, and the team has three attacking players that suits this style perfectly: Younes and Traoré on the sides provides speed, while also maintaining their defensive duties. Kasper Dolberg is a young center-forward, but with bags of potential. André Onana, a young Cameroonian goalkeeper formed in La Masia, has proved also to be a reliable goalkeeper. Their main flaw lays in defense: As overall, this is a young team, and that lack of experience often shows in big games.

Manchester United display a different style. Mourinho has had some ups and downs during the season, mainly in the Premier League, but has settled in the UEL to be the main contender for the title. In a one-by-one comparison, one could say that they have a clear advantage. Specially with the attacking players, few teams can equal a line-up with the names of Rooney, Martial and Mkhitaryan. On top of that, Marcus Rashford is in great form and performing well with the pressure of having to replace a key player such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The basque Ander Herrera is having a fantastic season and has proved to be a great central midfielder, with influence in both offense and defense. Sergio Romero will probably be in goal and to be fair, the devils haven't  missed De Gea that much during the competition: the argentinean proved to be a reliable goalkeeper when needed.

With more experience and quality players, Manchester United are the clear favorite to win the UEFA Europa League. The odds reflect this with an average of 4/5 for a United win. Due to the quality of both teams in attack, I can also foresee few goals. More than 2 goals (over 2.5 goals) could be a good bet at 6/5. Finally, a draw at half time and a win by Manchester United at the second (HT - FT odds) is enough viable option. Since Ajax defensive game is physical (applying pressure everywhere), one  this scenario could be a possibility. It's available at 3/1

The game is on BT Sport, but is going to be free-to-all, so tune in!

Saturday 20 May 2017

Chelsea vs Sunderland - 21st May - 15:00

Chelsea and Sunderland will play at Stamford Bridge - their last Premier League match of the season on Sunday 21st. Both teams have their fate already decided with Chelsea topping the table and Sunderland at the bottom of the relegation zone. After a solid season, Chelsea were crowned champions last week with two matches remaining. Sunderland, on the other hand, will play in the Championship next season.

For the Blues, things look promising ahead. With only Ruben Loftus-Cheek injured, all other players are fit and ready to play. Antonio Conte hinted after the match against Watford that he will field his full-strength team for this match as preparation for the FA Cup final. Sunderland will play their last match of the Premier League with several injured players, with 11 players ruled out for the clash. David Moyes said that he will have to put out “a patchwork team” and didn’t specify the starting eleven, but a lot of important players like Pienaar, Denayer and Anichebe will miss the match.

Given the circumstances, with Chelsea playing a full strength team and Sunderland with a diminished squad, it’s not illogical to foresee a match that is something of a goalfest for the home team. Odds for a match to have more than 2 goals are 1.40 which looks fair to me even though I'm not typically big on odds-on shots. Chelsea have scored 2 or more goals in their last seven home matches. The likelihood of Sunderland to even score seems relatively low. They haven't scored since their 2-2 draw with West Ham on April 15 and the weakened line-up for this match doesn’t improve things. Odds for Sunderland not scoring are 1.65. It might be a more risky approach, but also could be attractive for some. Enjoy the game!

Bet: Chelsea to score 2 or more goals at 1.40