United still inspiring Euro confidence

SPORTS BETTING

Manchester United may have conceded 11 goals in the space of six days, but bookmakers are in no doubt that Wednesday's Champions' League meeting with Fenerbahce at Old Trafford will be a match in name only. Hills' odds of 2-7 United, 8-1 Fenerbahce, 10-3 the draw are typical and, even after their recent reverses, there is little to be gained by punters here.

More interesting, though, are the outright odds, now that the probable quarter-final line-up is starting to crystallise. Juventus are generally the favourites at 11-4, with Milan available at 7-2 and Manchester on 13-2 with the Tote, but a crucial point is that two of the three seem certain to meet in the next round. Milan will surely finish second in Group D, and play the winners of Group C. When Juventus visit Old Trafford next month, it will be interesting to see just how hard either side is trying to win. Elsewhere on the list, Borussia Dortmund and Porto will find supporters, while the 8-1 about Ajax will look large if the Dutch champions can manage to pull their season around.

Memories of the Champions' League grow ever more distant for Blackburn Rovers, who are just 7-4 to be playing in the Nationwide League next season. Leicester, regardless of their 2-0 defeat of Newcastle, are 4-7 favourites for the drop, while Southampton are just 13-8 despite beating Manchester United. What little value there is in this list may lie with Leeds, 7-2 to go down. Another difficult month, including the visit of Liverpool and a must-win match with Sunderland, could see that price shorten dramatically.

EUROPEAN CUP: Best prices: 11-4 Juventus (C,H,T), 7-2 Milan (H), 6-1 Borussia Dortmund (H), 13-2 Manchester Utd (T), 8-1 Porto (L), Ajax (C,H,L), 20-1 Athletico Madrid (L), 25-1 Auxerre (L), 33-1 bar. (C Coral. H William Hills. L Ladbrokes. T Tote).

TO BE RELEGATED FROM PREMIERSHIP: Hills: 4-7 Leicester, 6-5 Coventry, 6-4 Derby, 13-8 Southampton, 7-4 Blackburn, 9-4 Forest, 11-4 Sunderland, 7-2 Leeds, 4-1 Sheffield Wed, 8-1 West Ham.

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