Manchester United hosts Middlesbrough in the FA Cup 1/16 finals. The match will be played on Friday, February 4th at Old Trafford (Manchester)
Manchester United surprised us with the way they spent January. Okay, it’s already clear that Ralf Rangnick is not considered as a head coach for the long term. And there are no special hopes for winning at least some trophy. But the Red Devils need to at least not fall below the 4th position in the Premier League standings and gain a ticket to the Champions League. The opponents (the same Tottenham) strengthened their squads in the winter transfer window. And the Mancunians only weakened. Yes, Diallo, van de Beek, and even Martial didn’t play key roles, but there are no newcomers, and it seems that the bosses didn’t even try to find them in January! Even after the scandal around Greenwood led to the fact that the Mancunians de facto lost Mason, they didn’t even make an attempt to compensate for this in the deadline. Yes, Manchester United has gained momentum in recent weeks (it eliminated Aston Villa in the Cup and scored seven of nine points in the last rounds of the Premier League), but is this a sign that the team is strong enough to accomplish the tasks for the end of the season? However, the next opponent is a so-so indicator.
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Middlesbrough is hardly so seriously involved in the struggle for this FA Cup (although at the turn of the century, it played in four different finals and even won the League Cup in 2004). But most importantly, Boro has a chance to compete for a return to the Premier League. A relatively recent attempt (under Karanka in 2016) ended in instant relegation. After that, Middlesbrough did not especially shine even in the Championship. For example, the last draw brought only 10th place. It seemed that the team would show about the same result under Warnock. But in November, Neil was replaced by Wilder. Chris is remembered for the transformation of his native team, Sheffield United, which he took over in 2016 in League 1, and in 2020 it was ranked ninth in the Premier League! However, then the fairy tale ended, and the coach was fired. But it looks like a new story is about to begin. After spending a little time to learn information about new players, Wilder arranged a streak of seven victories and a goalless draw against Stoke City. Yes, Middlesbrough lost to Blackburn on January 24, but after that, the Reds managed to beat Coventry and climb to 6th place, and this is the playoff zone. Is it worth it to spend energy on fighting in the cup?
Manchester United is the undisputed favorite of the upcoming match, but Middlesbrough is not as easy as it seems. The game is likely to be full of struggle, and the spectators should see enough goals. We recommend betting on Over 2.5 goals scored.