With the first set of Champions League games out of the way, with varying degree’s of success tipping wise (a couple of wins, a couple of close ones and then the odd mare) we move onto the even more unpredictable Europa League. Whereas the Champions League is taken seriously by all, the Europa League is not. What you have to consider is which of the teams are going to be going ‘all out’ for the wins, while being careful as some will rotate and rest key players – those looking to secure a Champions League spot via the league. Although winning this gets you a Champions League spot, most see that it is unlikely that you will get through the extra 9 games without taking a nose-dive in the league – so most see it fit to rest. The good thing about this is odds are fairly high, making profitability easier to come by. There are many more even games, whereas in the Champions League most games have a favourite
Now, there are 15 games today – and quite frankly I’m not going to go through all of them as the likes of ‘Fiorentina vs Spurs’ or ‘Shakhtar vs Schalke’ could be full of goals, but equally could be boring as hell. All of the above are going for titles, or at least a top 4 spot and I see all of them resting a few players. What I will do though is pick my top 6 games to bet on, and with that a nice sized accumulator to boot. From that I will also pick my top two in the daily tips for today, with a NAP and an extra game to give a 3/1 – 5/1 double. Let’s begin!
Villarreal vs Napoli: Napoli Win @ 2/1 (1800 KO)
This could be one of the ties of the round! Napoli have great strength in depth, and although both are vying for high league positions I can see the Italians taking it more seriously. Throughout the competition so far they have been very high scorers, and with the likes of Callejon, Hamisk, Insigne, Higuain, Gabbiadini and Mertens vying for forward roles – a selection of them will start. Add to that a solid defence, and a reliable midfield and you have the making of a potential winner of the entire competition. They 2nd in the league, so are getting on to a near-certain Champions League spot, but if all goes wrong they have this to fall back on as they are one of the stronger teams left.
Villarreal are back with a bang! Despite the loss of Luciano Viett, they have replaced well in Soldado and Bakambu – two solid strikers who have goals in them. However with them fighting it out for the top four, and with depth in their ranks being significantly less than their Italian counterparts, I can see a weakened side and a win for Napoli. 2/1 is quite a rich price considering!
Midtjylland vs Man Utd: Man Utd Win @ 4/5 (1800 KO)
The Danes should provide Man Utd with a stern test, and will prove to be no pushovers. Since their last game in this, they have lost one of their key players to Leicester for around £6m, so might not be quite upto their usual standards. The chance to knockout one of Europe’s greats is certainly a nice bounty to aim for though.
Man Utd on the other hand have issues of their own. A very weak back four, likely to feature multiple youth teams prospects, while with Wayne Rooney out for nearly 2 months the burden will fall on Anthony Martial, who has been playing wide left in recent months. With him moving more central, Memphis Depay might be given another shot to impress – and with both of these moves Utd should be a more direct team, running at full backs and scaring the life out of them! This 6 week spell could end Rooney’s Utd career, if Martial proves he is a capable goalscorer then he won’t be moved back to accommodate Wazza
Back to the game – Man Utd are a good price @ 4/5, and if you fancy them to win well, then -1 Asian Handicap is available @ 7/5. It might be one to consider ‘in play’, which I found with Wolfsburg last night. Watch the first 5-10 minutes and see how the games goes. Pre-match I’m inclined to back the win, but inplay I might well put a few bob on the Asian Handicap.
St Etienne vs Basel: BTTS @ 1/1 (1800 KO)
This has the potential to be a 0-0 or a 3-3. All depends on the teams. Basel have lost Elneny, while St Etienne have been inconsistent throughout this competition. Basel have scored well, but equally conceded too many for their liking. The Swiss side have treated us well throughout the year in this, and I fancy them to score a couple, but still concede. Overall so far in this competition – Basel have scored in all 6, while St Etienne have conceded in 4/6, and scored in 6/6. Despite the odds, this one looks a good shout.
Galatasaray vs Lazio: BTTS + Over 2.5 Goals @ 13/10 (2005 KO)
Galatasaray are a Champions League drop-out, while Lazio have been in the Europa League this season. Felipe Anderson has not sparkled as he did last term, and neither has the entire Lazio team for that matter. In the Europa this term, Lazio have a BTTS record of 5/6 – and in their last 10 away games have kept only 3 clean sheets, two of which were 0-0. Galatasaray on the other hand are even worse at the back, and in their last 10 games have amassed a grand total of 2 clean sheet at home – and that includes 4 cup ties often against lower tier opposition.
Both could and probably will rotate a little, and with Burak Yilmaz’ impending move to China on the cards he may not be involved. Wesley Sneijder will be vital for the home side, while Felipe Anderson has all the tools to unlock a leaky back four. I certainly think both will score, while either could score 2+.
Sparta Prague vs Krasnodar: BTTS + Over 2.5 Goals @ 7/5 (2005 KO)
Both of these two have been entertaining in this seasons’ competition. Prague faced Schalke in their group, while the Russians’ had to contend with Dortmund, and beat them if I remember rightly. Both have good all-round teams and squads, with Krasnodar perhaps having a slight edge with all the money there is gushing around back home. Joaozinho is a huge threat for the away side, while strikers Wanderson and Ari have good scoring records. For the home side veteran striker David Lafata has an excellent goals-to-games ratio, and then the likes of Lucas Maracek and Ladislav Kreijci are dangerous from midfield. Both defences have flaws, which should make for a great game!
Augsburg vs Liverpool: BTTS @ 10/11 (2005 KO)
Liverpool may have beaten Aston Villa 6-0 on the weekend, but let’s be honest Villa are terrible. Look at the reds in previous weeks and they have been nowhere near that sort of level/performance. Jurgen Klopp might be tempted to field a few different players on his first return to Germany – but he will know damn well that Augsburg are a handy team – Raul Bobadilla leading the line and capable of bullying an incompetent Liverpool back 5. Alexander Esswein is a huge threat, as is Shawn Parker. Their back four is solid, but penetrable – Daniel Opare a threat from right back – while ex-Arsenal stalwart Alex Manninger remains in goal…I thought he retired long ago! I get the feeling Klopp will field a mixed team, but remaining strong and possibly involving Danny Sturridge and Divock Origi.
- Augsburg-Liverpool BTTS @ 10/11
- Man Utd Win @ 4/5
- Napoli Win @ 2/1
- St Etienne-Basel BTTS @ 1/1
That pays 20/1.
Best of luck