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Europa League Tips & Predictions: 18th April
by David Lenton
We returned a slight profit in our Europa League tips last week – I’ll be trying for the same or better this week.
Arsenal and Chelsea are in action once again and both teams will be defending leads in their second leg games.
The other games see Benfica in the driving seat having landed a 4-2 win at home over Eintracht Frankfurt while in the other game, Valencia hold a commanding 3-1 lead from the away leg in Villarreal.
Here’s how I see the games panning out this week and as with last week’s matches, all of them kick off at 8.05pm BST.
Europa League Betting Tips: Thursday 18th April
April 18, 2019
April 18, 2019
After a real battle in Prague, Chelsea edged out the hosts Slavia thanks to a late header from full back Mikel Alonso.
The victory means that Chelsea have now gone 14 games unbeaten in the Europa League heading into this match.
Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud is the top goalscorer in the competition this season having netted nine goals for the Londoners.
The winners of this game will face either Benfica or Eintracht Frankfurt one of the two Europa League semifinals in May.
In what was a tough encounter in Prague last week, as I had predicted for Chelsea, the Londoners showed their mettle to come away with a 1-0 win thanks to Alonso’s fine header late in the game. It was perhaps an undeserved win given that Prague had missed two great chances earlier in the game, but it shows how tough Chelsea have been to beat in this competition this season.
Slavia Prague though showed enough to suggest that they can be a threat at Stamford Bridge, although I think it is hugely optimistic to think that they are still going to be in with a chance of qualifying. I think they would have needed to win that first leg by a couple of goals for that to be a realistic prospect.
So I am backing Chelsea to win at home here as they have been excellent at home for most of the season so far and I think Slavia don’t tend to travel as well as they do when at home. I can see the Czech side perhaps grabbing the goal that eluded them in the first leg but I feel it will be a consolation in the tie as I am backing Chelsea to make relatively simple work of this and to reach the semifinals.
Chelsea to win & both teams to score - £10 returns £35.00
A stunning performance by Joao Felix, who netted a hat-trick for Benfica, was the foundation for the Portuguese league leaders superb 4-2 win over Frankfurt.
Frankfurt will be without their defender Even N’Dicka as the full back received a red card in the first half of this game and will miss the second leg as a result.
Frankfurt need to win by three goals or more in order to progress, however they have been in top form in most of their home Europa League games this season.
Frankfurt’s hopes rest on key striker Luka Jovic, ironically on loan from Benfica, who has netted eight goals in the Europa League this season.
What an incredible game in the first leg these two teams served up with Benfica’s youngster Joao Felix, showing why he is one of the most sought after young players in world football by scoring a brilliant treble to put the Portuguese league leaders in with a fantastic chance of progressing in the second leg.
However, Frankfurt will feel that they are not out of this yet, though they will require a much sturdier defensive display than they managed in the game last week when they were uncharacteristically slapdash at the back, albeit despite playing most of the game with 10-men following Dicka’s sending off.
At home, Jovic and co will be hoping to grab the opening goal and if they can, then the German’s will fancy themselves to get another and progress by away goals, however, they may need to score three as after the first leg, I am pretty confident Benfica will manage to find the net in Germany to keep things very interesting.
In truth, this could be a cracking match and my gut feeling is that it could well be the away goals that decide it. I am backing Frankfurt to earn a 3-1 victory on the night, which will be just enough for them to progress on away goals.
Frankfurt to win & both teams to score - £10 returns £32.50
A lightning start from Arsenal saw them race into a 2-0 first half lead thanks to a goal from Aaron Ramsey and a deflected Kalidou Koulibaly own goal.
The Italian side were guilty of missing a couple of gilt-edged chances in the game, which could have seen things turn out very differently in the game.
Napoli have beaten Liverpool and drawn with PSG at home this season in the Champions league, which is food for thought for Gunner’s fans and players.
The teams have met three times previously and all have finished in 2-0 wins for the home side, two wins for Arsenal and one for Napoli. A fourth 2-0 home win would see extra time.
If this game follows the pattern of the previous three games between the teams then Napoli will win the game 2-0 in ninety minutes which would set up extra time and possibly penalties to decide the winner. The Italians perhaps should have had an away goal from the first leg but for some profligate finishing in front of goal.
Arsenal too missed a couple of chances after the two first-half goals to add to their lead and the Gunners would have loved the insurance of that third goal to make this game considerably easier as at 2-0, if Napoli can get the first goal at any point, then this game could really open up.
That first goal is going to be crucial and I do fancy Napoli to score it and I can see the Italian’s scoring two against an Arsenal side that have been somewhat below par on the road in recent weeks, especially when losing 2-0 to Everton at Goodison Park a while back.
However, I can see the Gunners finding the net here and if they do, Napoli will need four goals to progress and I cannot see them doing that. As such, I am backing Napoli to win on the night but for Arsenal to grab a goal and as a result progress into the next round.
Napoli to win & both teams to score - £10 returns £33.00
April 18, 2019
April 18, 2019
Valencia produced a last minute master class to put themselves in a commanding position from the first leg (3-1).
Guedes had earlier given Valencia an early lead before Santi Cazorla levelled for the home side from the penalty spot.
In La Liga this season, Valencia drew 0-0 in Villarreal but were 3-0 winners over their local rivals just a few weeks ago.
Valencia are unbeaten at home in the Europa League in their last ten games, the last seven of which have ended in wins for the Spaniards.
Valencia’s snatch and grab late show in the first leg has handed the host team tonight a huge advantage over their local rivals and in truth, I cannot see anything other than Valencia making it through into the semifinals, where a game with either Arsenal or Napoli will await them.
Villarreal were better value than the 3-1 loss suggested in the home leg and were right in the tie until injury time when Valencia’s counter-attacking play resulted in them netting the two key goals. With such an advantage, it is hard to see Valencia going totally all out to win this game from the start.
However, I also feel that Valencia will know if they are patient and can get a goal, then Villarreal heads will go down and the more the game goes on, the more I see the home side controlling the game and getting the better of things.
Valencia are a very tough side to beat and they have proved that domestically this season, losing just four games, the same as Atletico Madrid and I can’t see them losing here. In fact, I think they’ll eke out a narrow 1-0 win to ensure safe passage into the next round.
David 'the Cheeky Punter' Lenton is an ex professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has also worked for a number of top bookmakers including Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. With such a long time spent dedicated to the gambling industry no one is better placed when it comes to advising punters. Follow on Twitter @thecheekypunter