Manchester United (+187) at Wolfsburg (+137), Draw (+240)
With a ticket to the Round of 16 at stake (sort of), Manchester United and Wolfsburg will clash this Tuesday at the Volkswagen Arena in Germany (2:45 PM Eastern) in the last fixture of the UEFA Champions League Group Stage.
The scenario to advance is actually quite complex. Both teams will guarantee a spot in the knockout phase with a win. Wolfsburg can also punch their ticket with a draw. But both could potentially move on with a loss, depending on what happens between PSV and CSKA Moscow in the other Group B match.
Wolfsburg and Man U currently occupy the top two spots in Group B with nine and eight points respectively. PSV is third with seven, while CSKA is out of contention, sitting on just four.
If CSKA beats PSV, it doesn’t matter what happens between Wolfsburg and Man U; both teams will advance. But if PSV wins, United would also need a win to advance. In that scenario, a draw between Man U and Wolfsburg would see the Germans advance along with PSV.
United won the first meeting against Wolfsburg back in September in England (2-1), but Wolfsburg looked like the better team for much of that match. The German side is also 2-0 at home in this year’s Champions League, beating PSV, 2-0, and CSKA, 1-0, while United has yet to win on the road (losing 2-1 to PSV and drawing 1-1 with CSKA).
The Red Devils are undefeated in their last nine in all competitions, but have only picked up three wins in that stretch (3-6-0). Goal scoring continues to be a problem for the team, mustering just seven tallies over those nine games. The defense has been impeccable, though, surrendering just ten goals through 14 EPL matches (best in the league).
Wolfsburg play a decidedly different brand of soccer, averaging 1.6 goals per game in the Bundesliga (fourth-best). They’ve surrendered 15 goals in 14 domestic matches, but still have a solid +8 goal differential.
United have been mediocre in Germany over the years, with a 5-4-5 record in 14 visits. (Their last game was a 3-1 setback to Bayern Munich.) Wolfsburg aren’t the dominant force that Bayern is, but they’re still a very good team that plays well at home. Knowing that they need only a draw to advance, look for the Germans to be content with the single point and keep the anemic Man U offense at bay.
Pick: Draw (+240).
(Photo credit: Paul (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Image has been cropped.)