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Manchester United knocked out Barcelona in the previous round of the Europa League
Real Betis advanced to the last 16 after finishing top of their group before Christmas
Manchester United will be looking to bounce back from a 7-0 demolition by Liverpool
The odds for Manchester United vs Real Betis are from the FanDuel sportsbook, which is giving out a no-sweat first bet up to $1000.
Manchester United could be vulnerable after the thrashing by Liverpool, while Real Betis will not simply sit back and hope for the best.
Back both teams to score and over 2.5 goals. (+115)
It was a truly astonishing outcome. When Manchester United traveled to Anfield on Sunday, many predicted they would register their first victory over Liverpool since January 2016. The best online sportsbooks had the Reds down as favorites, but neither they nor any soccer fan out there anticipated such a historic demolition.
Liverpool 7-0 Manchester United. A few days on and it remains hard to get one’s head around what happened. United have endured some difficult times in the post-Alex Ferguson era, but this season has actually gone pretty well so far.
Ahead of the game at Anfield, United were very much part of the Premier League title race, albeit as outsiders. They had won their first trophy in six years the previous weekend, beating Newcastle United in the final of the EFL Cup.
A few days before that, Erik ten Hag’s team knocked Barcelona out of the Europa League, advancing to the round of 16 at the expense of the La Liga leaders. And United are still in the FA Cup too, with talk of a possible quadruple growing louder by the week.
Liverpool, conversely, are in the middle of their most disappointing season in some time. Yet they produced a dazzling performance on Sunday, particularly in the second half.
The manner of United’s collapse was astonishing and will be cause for concern for Ten Hag, despite his side’s positive form in 2023. Needless to say, the Dutchman did not expect to oversee the club’s joint-worst-ever defeat.
It is now all about the response for United. If they win convincingly on Thursday, the shellacking at Anfield can be written off as a freak result. But such was the comprehensive nature of the loss, many United fans are worried that the team will find it difficult to get it out of their system.
All of a sudden, Real Betis will not be so fearful of Thursday’s trip to Old Trafford. They would not necessarily have been daunted by the prospect even before Manchester United’s thumping by their chief adversaries, but Manuel Pellegrini will hope that his team now stands a better chance of picking up a positive result ahead of the return fixture at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Whereas United had to get past Barcelona in the Europa League knockout round playoffs, Betis advanced straight to the round of 16 after topping their group before Christmas (United finished second behind Real Sociedad).
They did so in an impressive fashion. Being drawn alongside Roma, HJK, and Ludogorets Razgrad did not make for a particularly easy group, but Betis amassed 16 points from 18 and scored an average of two goals per game.
They are also faring reasonably well in La Liga. A top-four finish was the objective at the beginning of the campaign and Pellegrini’s side are in a decent position to realize that aim.
After a battling 0-0 draw with Real Madrid at the weekend, Betis are just three points behind the aforementioned Real Sociedad in the fourth, the final Champions League qualification spot.
There are still several strong sides left in this competition, from Premier League duo Manchester United and Arsenal to Serie A sides Roma and Juventus. This tie will be a tough test for Betis, but they too are an excellent team and no one should write them off.
Real Betis will feel emboldened by Manchester United’s thrashing by Liverpool, which suddenly makes them more vulnerable than they were prior to the game at Anfield. Indeed, there could be some signs of tentative play from Ten Hag’s team early on in Thursday’s clash, with United players scared to make a mistake.
That is less than ideal for United, and Real Betis should have some joy going forward. They have scored in all six of their Europa League games this season and have scored six goals in their last two away matches in La Liga.
Pellegrini is an attack-minded manager who will not instruct his players to simply sit deep and hope for the best. Betis must be disciplined and measured, of course, but they have the attacking quality to cause United problems.
A clean sheet could be beyond them, however. The Red Devils have not drawn a blank in front of their own fans since a 0-0 draw with Newcastle United in the middle of October.
In the 18 home fixtures they have fulfilled since then, United have scored 45 goals - an impressive average of 2.5 per game. With all that in mind, both teams to score and over 2.5 goals is the way to go.
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Teams: Manchester United vs Real Betis
Location: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Date and Time: Mar. 9, 2023, 3 p.m. EST
How to Watch: Peacock Premium
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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