Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Midweek Outlook (13 Sep 2006)

Manchester United vs Glasgow Celtic

"...There has been a conspiracy theory going around saying that Celtic may roll over and play dead today...."
- JayWalk, 13 Sep 2006

It is time again for Fergie to chase that second personal holy grail. After a disastrous showing last season, you'd be sure Fergie would not let such mistakes happen a second time.

Actually, if you think about it, the UEFA ECL First Round is relatively straight forward. With 4 teams in each group and 6 games to play in total, any team that can earn 10 points out of a possible total of 18 would more or less earn their ticket into the lucrative second round.

There has been a conspiracy theory going around saying that Celtic may roll over and play dead today. They are doing that in the hope that ManUtd would be able to amass all 12 points in the first 4 games of the group round and hence earn an early qualification. With 4 victories, ManUtd would have virtually qualified for the second round and hence may "return the favour" by easing off the pedal when it comes to the 5th game, which coincidentally is against Celtic.

Seeding and a favourable draw has made ManUtd a virtual shoo-in for the 2nd round. Group F is all about ManUtd, while the other three teams are there as cannon fodders to fill up the numbers. As redundant as Celtic, Copenhagen and Benfica may be made out to sound, it is still delightful opportunity for these 3 teams as one of them would actually get the chance to make to the second round. Even 3rd placing would be a good outcome for them as 2nd runner-up gets them a UEFA Cup spot. Such is the difference in level of standards between ManUtd and any of these 3 teams.

JayWalk The Talk: The Battle of Britain sees a relatively clean health sheet on both sides with the exception of the long term injured like Heinze and Vidic.

Scholes and Rooney would be raring to go after being "well rested" as a result of each serving their 3-match suspensions. Expect, Wayne to unleash all that pent up energy on the Scottish side.

Celtic may have had quite a number of new signing, of which Gravesen and Vennegor of Hesselink deserved special mention as they are of the higher calibre signings by Strachan. However, both have yet to be settled properly into the squad and I think they both would not be able to play to their fullest potential yet. Well, at least not this game.

ManUtd, on the other hand, has gelled very well as a team and it is evident with their season opening 4-for-4 record, even without van Nistelrooy, Keane, Rooney or Scholes.

ManUtd are a class about Celtic and Old Trafford would be that fortress that Celtic will be unable to conquer. I'd be surprised if Celtic can even score tonight.

JayWalk The Walk: ManUtd will be far too strong for Celtic as evident in the bookies offering ManUtd at -1.5 balls and a decimal odds of 1.9 to overcome it. Expect Celtic to concede a couple of goals while scoring none. There is also a gut feel to see Wayne Rooney getting onto the scoresheet more than once.

Take ManUtd and give the 1.5 ball handicap.

Disclaimer: The above views are purely my own two-cents' worth. In other words, I cannot and will not guarantee that my predictions are accurate. If you want to bet on the game, do so at your own risk. Also, please bet responsibly and within your means regardless of how "sure thing" that game may appear to be. As the old saying goes, "The Ball Is Round". Good luck.


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