Football tips for 2021: Paddy trader’s best bets combine for mega 100/1 Double

Let's face it, 2020 was a bit rubbish

Bruno Fernandes Manchester United Pepe Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal


*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change

2021 is a year to look forward to for many reasons and this column should make punters dare to dream of the riches that await them if this big priced long-term football double comes home.

Given that the outright odds for all of Europe’s major leagues are changing every few days, I thought it best to focus on two tournaments in which we won’t see any action for at least a couple of months – these are the Europa League and Euro 2020.

Man Utd to win the Europa League

Manchester United departed the Champions League in ignominious fashion after such a promising start to the group stages with wins over RB Leipzig and PSG, but they have a squad that is a different level to their competition in this lower grade of Europa League.

Even if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decides to rest their key men like Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford to focus on the Premier League, players like Donny Van de Beek, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial are more than capable of being the core of a United team that reaches the latter stages of this competition. United also possess a couple of feted young talents in Facundo Pellestri and flying winger Amad Diallo who we could see prosper.

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It’s also worth noting that United were a few missed chances away from knocking out eventual champions Sevilla in last year’s semi-final, despite not being at their best after an intense end of season Premier League schedule.

United’s squad is even stronger this year and to me, United should be clear favourites to win the competition despite having a tricky last 32 draw against Real Sociedad. They look more than a fair price and I would expect United to go close



Portugal to win Euro 2020

The price on offer quite simply looks far too big on a team with Portugal’s level of ability and I believe the betting markets have overreacted to Portugal being drawn in the same group as France and Germany in Euro 2020’s ‘Group of Death’.

This draw is a far from fatal blow given the other team in the group is Hungary and that should be a relatively easy victory for Fernando Santos’ team. A win over Hungary will likely be enough to see Portugal through to the last 16, no matter what their results are against the group’s big hitters with four third-place teams from the group stages qualifying for the knockout stages.

I don’t expect Portugal to be struggling for qualification given the wealth of talent they have at their disposal and the vulnerabilities of Joachim Loew’s Germany, who were recently thrashed 6-0 by Spain.

‘Portugal are a one man team’ is a tired old cliché that has never really been true and overused by lazy pundits at international tournaments. One only needs to look back at Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph where Pepe was Portugal’s outstanding player in the latter stages of that tournament rather than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Sweden Nations League September 8, 2020

However, it was fair to say that Portugal were over-reliant on the great man in attack in previous years but that is certainly not the case any more. No player has created more chances in the Premier League than Bruno Fernandes this season and Diogo Jota looked like one the best strikers in the league up until a recent injury. Added to that, Joao Felix is emerging into one of the brightest talents in European football at Atletico Madrid.

The midfield is a slight area of concern with Bernardo Silva yet to rediscover his brilliant form of a couple of seasons ago but between Danilo of PSG and the Wolves’ pairing of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, there should be a solid platform for Fernandes to flourish.

Portugal possess superb attacking full-backs in Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo and Raphael Guerreiro of Borussia Dortmund with Leicester’s Ricardo Pereira hopefully returning from injury to provide cover. There would be some question marks about the pairing of Ruben Dias of Man City and Ruben Semedo at Olympiakos but both are very gifted players and coach Santos has shown in the past that his Portugal teams will usually be well-drilled defensively.

Ruben Neves Joao Moutinho Wolves

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Added to all that, Rui Patricio is a very consistent performer and provides stability in the goalkeeping position.

All in all, you’re getting a good price for one of the most talented teams in the tournament, who have won recent silverware with the 2019 UEFA Nations League and have a reliable coach, seems like good value and well worth a punt.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change

Football in 2021 best bets

Manchester United to win the Europa League
Portugal to win Euro 2020

The Double for these two selections comes in at just over 100/1 with Paddy Power, so that is certainly a windfall to hope for!

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