Manchester United are one of the five Premier League clubs to have advanced through the group stages of the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League. The Red Devils topped Group A by getting 15 of 18 possible points against the likes of Basel, CSKA Moscow and Benfica.
Jose Mourinho’s men are gearing up for a tough showdown in the knockout stages against Spanish side Sevilla, who finished second in Group E behind United rivals Liverpool. Manchester City are currently listed as the favorites to win the tournament, but did United close the gap with the shock acquisition of Alexis Sanchez?
If you have already wagered on City to win their first Champions League title, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to hedge your bets by throwing some money down on their intracity rivals. Mourinho has won this tournament before, and this United squad clearly has the talent necessary to get to the top for the first time since 2008.
Arsenal have been Champions League regulars for the better part of a decade, but the Gunners were unable to nudge their way into the top-four of the Premier League last season. As a result, Arsene Wenger’s squad have been forced to languish in the Europa League this season.
Sanchez featured in one game for Arsenal in Europa League, and he contributed a goal in a victory over Koln. While the cup-tied Philippe Coutinho, who moved from Liverpool to Barcelona earlier this month, will be unable to play for his new club for the rest of their tenure in this season’s Champions League, Sanchez is not cup-tied to his old club. As a result, he is eligible to play for United for the remainder of their CL run this season.
Even though he didn’t open his goals account, Sanchez made his presence felt in his debut for the Red Devils on Friday in the FA Cup against Yeovil Town. The Premier League’s new highest-paid player was a focal point of Mourinho’s attack, and showed repeated flashes of why United were willing to splash the cash required to pry him from the Emirates.
United have plenty of attack-minded players already in the squad, but the addition of Alexis gives Mourinho a versatile weapon capable of playing all over the pitch and contributing in a number of areas. Sanchez was playing alongside a bit of a watered-down side for the expected victory against Yeovil, but it’ll be fun to watch him lining up alongside the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba once Champions League play resumes in February.
Getting through a plucky Sevilla side won’t be easy, but if United play up to their talent level then they shouldn’t have a major issue getting through to the quarterfinal round. There’s no telling who they may draw if they do advance, but it’s likely to be another of the world’s giant clubs.
Getting past squads like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or another of their Premier League rivals will be no small task, but there’s no questioning the notion that United have as much talent as anybody. The Red Devils are currently undervalued, which makes them a wonderful flier bet at +1200 to win this season’s UCL.
Will you be adding United’s Sanchez to your Champions League Fantasy Team?