Chelsea have never lost at home in the Premier League while Jose Mourinho has been the manager. During his two spells at the club the side are unbeaten at Stamford Bridge but that record could go when Manchester United visit on Sunday. The match is being televised and that should give a boost to live betting.
European sportsbooks make United 4.5 (7-2) to win this fixture and that looks a decent bet for smart punters despite the side’s relatively poor form since David Moyes became the manager. This season was always going to be one of transition following the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson but not qualifying for the Champions League would represent a bad start to the tenure of Moyes at the club.
Playing in the Champions League is vital to the finances of the top clubs around Europe. The competition generates vast sums of money from television rights and prize money. Competing in the tournament allows clubs to attract the best players by paying the highest wages. Some of these clubs are sponsored by online betting companies.
In England playing in the Champions League has become almost a closed shop for United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. All four clubs have qualified for the knockout stages of this season’s competition and one or more of those sides could play in the final in Portugal in May. This match is the most popular around Europe for those gamblers that bet on sports.
Despite the wealth of the English clubs the best team in Europe are from Germany. Bayern Munich could become the first team to win the Champions League two years in succession. They have the nucleus of the German national team in their squad and outstanding overseas players in Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben.
The Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid could break the German dominance that saw Munich and Borussia Dortmund meet in last year’s final. The match was poised at 1-1 before Robben scored the winning goal in the closing stages. Both teams from Spain were beaten in the semi-finals by these two German sides.
There is now a distinct possibility that Manchester United will not finish in one of the top four places that guarantees Champions League football next season. They could still qualify as winners but it would take some improvement in form for them to beat the major clubs from Germany and Spain.
United cannot win the league now but in the context of Champions League qualification the match with Chelsea could be hugely significant. It would really get their season on track if they could win the fixture with Chelsea and end that unbeaten run at their own ground under Mourinho.
The match has been billed in the English press as the Special One against the Chosen One. Mourinho has given himself the former title while a huge banner at Old Trafford indicates that Sir Alex suggested Moyes was the best candidate to replace him.
In the context of which side wins the Premier League the match between Chelsea and United will not be as pivotal as in previous seasons. The talk in the media is that this is the most open season in many years but Manchester City could soon make a mockery of that view by pulling away from the other contenders over the next six weeks. Good odds of better than 2.0 are still available for sports bettors who want to back City.
City are owned by a wealthy family from Abu Dhabi and are apparently the richest club in the world. They are probably the only club in Europe that could afford to sign Lionel Messi if he decides he would like to play in England. He would no doubt generate the biggest transfer fee in soccer ever, despite now being just the second best player in the world, after Cristiano Ronaldo.
That player has said he considered returning to Manchester United last summer but decided to stay with Madrid. There was suggestions his ego had been affected by the signing of Gareth Bale, the most expensive player ever, but they have gelled in the same Madrid side and Ronaldo seems happy to stay in Spain at least for now.
English clubs can only sign players during two transfer windows, one in August and one now in January. The problem for teams that want to strengthen at this time of year is that clubs are not willing to sell their best players while the domestic leagues and Champions League have not been decided.
Another factor with regards players moving to England is that potential signings don’t want the upheaval of a move ahead of the World Cup in Brazil this summer. Most would prefer to stay put to give themselves the best chance of being selected to play for their country in the World Cup.
Moyes knows he needs to buy players to make United competitive at home and in Europe. For now he must rely on the goals of Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie but he may have to play Chelsea with both unavailable for selection. Despite these absentees United can beat Chelsea and spoil Mourinho’s impeccable record for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.