UCL Tips for Bayer Leverkusen vs. Manchester United

Nila Amerova

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 3:29 PM GMT

Can Manchester United turnaround indifferent road form in Continental Europe when they descend on Bayern Leverkusen on match day 5 of Champions League?

Here’s a breakdown of this MUST-SEE bout between the two favourites in Group A complete with soccer picks.

The top two favourites in Group A collide

The top two favourites in Group A are set to collide on match day 5, a bout poised to potentially decide top spot in the table. Current leaders Man U, listed at a whopping -1600 betting odds to qualify and at -225 to win Group A, have a mere point advantage over Bayer Leverkusen, listed at -450 to qualify and at +225 to win Group A at Bet365. Therefore, a win for either side would guarantee progress into the knockout phase; for Man U it would also guarantee top spot.

But advancement is not exclusively down to the outcome of their bout. Adding a dose of trepidation (especially to Man U’s bid) is the section’s second match between Shakhtar Dontesk and Real Sociedad. The Ukrainian side is merely three points adrift of Man U, two points adrift of Bayer Leverkusen. Of all the possible scenarios the one most concerning to the Premier League darlings: if Man U suffer defeat to Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar Donetsk beat Real Sociedad, Bayer Leverkusen would be assured a spot in the knockout phase but Man U and Shakhtar (tipped at +190 to qualify) would have to duel for advancement on match day 6.

What happened last time these teams met?

Man United indifferent on the road

Man U’s recent form is overall encouraging – an eight game undefeated run across all competitions, which includes five wins and three draws. But apart from a 4-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen to kick-off their European sojourn, Man U haven’t played up to their usual Sir-Alex-Fergusson-lofty standards. An ensuing 1-1 draw in Kiev was followed by a lacklustre back-to-back leg with Real Sociedad that ended with a 1-0 win at the Old Trafford and a scoreless draw in San Sebastian.

Ahead of match day 5 Man U boast a modest 2-2-0 record and road form that has let them down with inauspicious draws. That waning European appetite could be an explanation as to why they are listed at the disadvantage at +188 to win outright. That and David Moyes must also consider they will be away to Cardiff City at the weekend right before their trip to Germany, a match his side absolutely must win in order to advance their bid for a Top 4 spot.

They already did the hard graft last lap by beating Arsenal to move into fifth spot, five points shy of the league leaders. It would be awfully careless to allow naught to come of it now. Not to mention ignore the mounting pressure from credible threats below – Everton, Tottenham and Manchester City, to name a few – all of whom dropped points in the last lap and are looking to rebound this weekend.

So there must be careful consideration of Man U’s merit on the win before sports bettors pound their tempting soccer odds, not least because the hosts will be looking to deposit a much better performance at home to the Red Devils. Something akin to their last Champions League game at home that was a 4-0 routing over Shakhtar, perhaps?

The other Manchester will be taking on Tottenham in the EPL.

In fact, Sami Hyppia’s men can be confident of getting a result over Man U at home where they are a perfect 2-0-0 in Champions League and 6-0-0 in domestic action, as evinced by their favourable +138 odds to win outright at Bet365. Not to mention a defeat would be unacceptable, as it would leave their campaign teetering on the outcome of the section’s second game.

Bayer Leverkusen’s overall form doesn’t make good reading for Man U either as it stands at a solid 9-1-2 this season, a mark that puts them third in the Bundesliga table (but level on points with Borussia Dortmund (2nd) and just four points shy of league leaders Bayern Munich). That and they’ve scored 27 goals (35 if you add the eight in Champions League to their Bundesliga tally). Compare that to Man U’s 18 in Premier League and six in Champions League (four of which did come against Bayer Leverkusen at the Old Trafford, mind) and you get the impression that this will not be a straightforward trip for Man U.

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Soccer Betting Verdict

 There have been signs that Man U are finally finding form. The uncharacteristic start to the season seems to be behind them (for now) as they are back in the Top 5, but their away form in Europe continues to be a blot on their campaign. And you can bet that Bayer Leverkusen will be their toughest road test yet in Group A. Given Man U’s penchant for the draw on the road, it’s possible that it could rear its ugly head here (listed at +225 at Bet365). But that would be flirting with disaster: a draw could prove detrimental to both sides if Shakhtar wins over Real Sociedad. Only if Shakhtar were to lose would a draw see both these two top favourites advance). No, more likely than not, both sides will have to play to win this game and although the sentimental pick would be Man U, we’re not convinced they can pass the tough test. As such, we’re plumping down to a Bayer Leverkusen win as our free pick at +138 at Bet365.

Soccer Free Picks: Bayer Leverkusen to win outright at +138