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Europa League Tips: Thursday 5th April
by the Cheeky Punter
This Thursday it is the first leg of the Europa League quarter-finals and there are four intriguing ties to look forward to over the course of the evening.
Over the course of the season we’ve done better in the Europa League than the Champions League and I hope that’s going to continue into this weeks action.
I’ve analysed all the fixtures, including the big one for Arsenal v CSKA Moscow and come up with what I believe to be the four bets which offer the most value.
Check out my tips below…
Europa League Tips: Thursday 5th April
April 5, 2018
April 5, 2018
Arsenal won Group H in the Europa League and then beat Ostersunds (4-2 on agg) and Milan (5-1 on agg) to reach the quarter-finals.
The teams met in the Group Stage of the 2006/07 Champions League, CSKA winning 1-0 in Moscow followed by a 0-0 draw at Highbury.
CSKA dropped into the Europa League by finishing 3rd in Champs League Group A. They beat Red Star Belgrade (1-0 on agg) and Lyon (3-3 on away goals) to reach the quarters.
CSKA will be without the suspended Kirill Nababkin for the match in Moscow. Arsenal have no players suspended for the game.
Arsenal fans can’t have been too unhappy at the draw for the quarter-finals that pitted them against a very experienced CSKA Moscow team, but one that does not have a good record when facing English teams.
Indeed their last victory over an English side came way back in 2006, when they defeated Arsenal in Moscow 1-0 and also earned a 0-0 draw at Highbury, however the two teams were very different back then.
CSKA are a talented side with vast experience in the defence but they do lack pace and it is going to be hard for them to defend against Arsenal’s pacey attackers and the incisive passing of Ozil for 90 minutes. Going forward, CSKA shone in Lyon, but I think the Gunners have a bit more experience at this level than their French opponents did and with this being the first leg, Arsenal will want to keep things very tight.
As such, I can’t see a romp for Arsenal as it was in the last round against Milan, but I do think they will take a 1-0 or 2-0 lead with them into the second leg in Moscow in a week’s time.
Atletico dropped into the Europa League from the Champions League, finishing 3rd in Group C. They beat Copenhagen (5-1) and Lokomotive Moscow (8-1) to reach this stage.
Sporting Lisbon also dropped into the Europa League after finishing 3rd in Champions League Group D. They beat Astana (6-4) and Viktoria Plzen (3-2 AET) to reach this stage.
The teams have met twice before in the 2009/10 Europa League with Atletico winning on away goals after a 0-0 draw in Madrid and a 2-2 draw in Lisbon.
Sporting Lisbon have never won a competitive game in Spain in their history in 12 attempts, losing 9 and drawing 3 of the games they have played.
There is no doubt that of the teams remaining in the competition, Atletico Madrid have been the class act so far in the knockout stage. They have accounted for two decent teams in Copenhagen and Lokomotive Moscow by heavy scorelines in both rounds and Diego Simeone’s are justifying their favourites tag.
They face a Sporting Lisbon side that squeaked through after extra time against Viktoria Plzen in the last round and who have not won in 12 games in Spain. Add to that Atletico’s amazing home record and outstanding recent form and the chances of Lisbon upset look extremely remote.
The biggest trouble I had with this bet was trying to find value as the odds on Atletico are just so short as to make most markets not worth a bet, so I’ve goe for Atletico to win comfortably here and to keep Sporting Lisbon to a nil scoreline which is just short of even money with most bookmakers.
However, if the Spaniards get an early goal, it could be a very long night in store for Lisbon and I fear they could be on the end of a real thumping.
Atletico Madrid to win to nil - £10 returns £19.10
Lazio topped Group K to qualify for the Knockout phase and there they defeated Steaua Bucharest (5-2) and Dynamo Kiev (4-2) to reach the quarters.
Salzburg won Group I to qualify for the Knockout phase. There they have beaten Real Sociedad (4-3) and Borussia Dortmund (2-1) to reach this round.
The teams have met twice before and Salzburg have won both games by a 2-1 scoreline. Lazio have lost their last three games against Austrian sides.
Striker Hee-Chan Hwan will be suspended for Salzburg for the first leg of this tie in Rome.
Lazio have been a bit of an anomaly in the Europa League at times this season, in both their knockout games so far, they have had one poor performance, then followed that up with a dominant display. Against Steaua, they were poor away from home, but brilliant in Rome and then against Kiev they were poor in Rome, but excellent in the Ukrainian capital.
They’ll need to take Red Bull Salzburg seriously as this team has finished top of Group I, ahead of Marseille, and they have been one of the most impressive sides in the Europe League this season knocking out two high quality teams in Sociedad and Dortmund to reach this stage.
Add to that Lazio’s poor recent record against Austrian teams and you have a match that could provide something of an upset. So much so that I do fancy Salzburg to score in Rome against a Lazio defence that does look susceptible at times.
That said, Lazio’s attack is one of the strongest left in the tournament and as such, I am backing the Italians to win a tight one perhaps 2-1, maybe even 3-2, which would set up a very exciting second leg in Salzburg in a week’s time.
Lazio to win & both teams to score - £10 returns £36.00
Leipzig finished 3rd in Group G of the Champs League to earn a Europa League spot. They have defeated Napoli (3-3 on away goals) and Zenit St Petersburg (3-2) to qualify.
Marseille finished second in Group I to reach the knockout phase. There they have defeated Braga (3-1) and Athletic Bilbao (5-2) in order to reach the quarter-finals.
Central defender Willi Orban will be unable to play for Red Bull in the first leg as he is suspended.
Marseille have played eight times in Germany, losing five times, drawing two matches and winning just the once. The teams have never met previously in European competition.
Both these teams have looked very strong at times in reaching the quarter finals of this competition. Marseille in particular were very strong in their second leg in Bilbao and also at home to Braga, while Red Bull shone away in Napoli but then were superb against Zenit in both home and away legs.
I think in terms of talent, both sides are somewhat equally. Red Bull have Time Werner banging in the goals, while Marseille have the mercurial skills of Dmitri Payet to call upon and he has been their shining light in the competition this season.
Given the attacking quality both teams possess, plus their propensity to let in goals, I do feel that this is a tie that will likely see both teams score a goal in both legs and with the first legs tending to be a more edgy affair, I think this one will likely end in a draw.
My money would be on a 1-1 scoreline, or perhaps 2-2 if there is an early goal, but if we reach half time with no goals, I could also see that being the final score. As such, rather than go for extra value, I’m hedging my bets here and just backing the draw, rather than both teams to score too.
The Cheeky Punter is an ex professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has worked for a number of top bookmakers including Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. He's also written for a number of leading news outlets including the Guardian, i (newspaper) and Soccer Lens. More about him here.