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Europa League Tips: Thursday 11th April
by David Lenton
We are reaching the nitty gritty stage of the Europa League – the quarter-finals.
We smashed it up in the Champions League this week, bagging a profit of £35.50 (total returns £75.50 from £10 stakes) and obviously I’m looking to do the same with this set of tips.
British interest remains high with Arsenal facing Italian opponents in Napoli and Chelsea, the other British side, have made very steady progress to this stage of the tournament.
Lets get stuck in – here are my Europa League tips for this Thursday night.
Europa League Betting Tips: Thursday 11th April
April 11, 2019
April 11, 2019
Arsenal beat BATE Borisov & Rennes in the previous two rounds to reach the knockout phase, although they have lost both away legs in those ties.
Napoli narrowly defeated Red Bull Salzburg 4-3 on aggregate in the last round but comfortably disposed of FC Zurich 5-1 in the Round of 32.
Both teams have reached the final of the tournament when it was the UEFA Cup, Napoli winning it in 1989 and Arsenal losing finalists in 2000.
The teams have met just twice before in the 2013-14 Champions League, Arsenal winning 2-0 at home and Napoli winning, also 2-0, on their home patch.
This is certainly one of the glamour ties in this year’s Europa League quarter-finals and it looks an even contest too with Arsenal heading into this game in good form and Napoli being by far the second best team in Serie A and having performed well in European competition this season.
Carlo Ancelotti is a shrewd manager who has a good record against English opponents and who will know all about Arsenal from his time at Chelsea. However, Unai Emery is building a new team in his own way and it may well be that this Arsenal team has the capability to spring a few surprises on the Italian tactician.
Napoli though are a well organised side as they showed against Liverpool and they don’t tend to concede many goals on the road, however they also don’t score a huge amount and I think that means this should be a tight encounter and that it may see on rot two goals only.
However, with home advantage, I see Arsenal as being the team most likely to grab those goals and I think they will take an important but narrow lead with them into the second leg.
Benfica defeated Galatasaray 2-1 on aggregate in the Round of 32 and then beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-1 on aggregate in the last round to reach this stage.
Frankfurt thumped Shakhtar Donetsk 6-3 in the Round of 32 and then edged out Inter Milan 1-0, winning away at the San Siro, to progress into the quarters.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s star striker Luka Jovic is on loan at the club from Benfica having joined on a two-year loan back in 2017.
He two clubs have never met in European competition. Benfica have reached three finals, losing all three. Frankfurt were winners of this tournament back in 1980.
This is the game I feel has the potential to be one of the best quarterfinals. Benfica are in good form at the moment both domestically and they have proven to be stubborn, rather than spectacular opponents in the Europa League this season, battling through against Galatasaray and then Zagreb.
Frankfurt had been one of the star teams in the group phase, winning all six of their games in what was a tough group and they showed their quality with two excellent wins over Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan, two sides that, like Benfica, dropped into the Europa League from the Champions League in the New Year.
Much will be made of Luka Jovic’s return to his parent club and Benfica are going to have to try and keep the Serbian striker quiet if they are to land the win as he has been in top form for Frankfurt and has been their main output for goals in this competition so far.
That said, Benfica are a very tough team to beat and they are in good form domestically and should be confident on their home patch of at least taking a narrow lead with them back into the second leg in Germany and I think that is what they will do.
After coming through the group stage, Chelsea defeated Malmo 5-1 on agg in the Round of 32 before earning an 8-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv in the last round.
Slavia defeated Genk 4-1 to reach the Round of 16 and there they produced a huge upset defeating Sevilla 6-5 on aggregate to claim a quarter-final spot.
Midfield Soucek is suspended for Slavia Prague for the first leg of this tie, but Chelsea have no players suspended for the game.
The teams have never met previously, and Slavia have never won a European competition. Chelsea were winners of this tournament in 2013 when they beat Benfica in the final.
If there is one thing that British bookmakers tend to do in European competition, it is overestimate the strength of British teams against supposedly lesser opposition and given the odds on Chelsea achieving a win in Prague, I can only assume that is what a number of bookies have done here.
Chelsea have been in excellent form in this competition, coming through the Group Stage with a perfect record and then winning their two knockout ties in very comfortable fashion. Had that form been replicated in the Premier League, I could understand the bookies odds quite easily but it certainly hasn’t.
I also feel the bookies have underestimate Slavia Prague. This is a team that performed well in this competition last season and who knocked out Sevilla, the most successful team in Europa League history, in the last round in dramatic fashion. On home soil, they are certainly not going to be pushovers.
As such, I don’t expect this to be a coast for Chelsea and I am backing Prague to get a draw in this game to head into the second leg in London with plenty to play for. I do think Chelsea will go through, I just don’t think it will be as easy as many pundits are making out.
Villarreal edged out Sporting Lisbon in a tight Round of 32 clash 2-1 on aggregate before winning both legs over Zenit St Petersburg for a 5-2 aggregate win.
Valencia overcame Celtic 3-0 on aggregate to win their Round of 32 clash and then defeated Russian side FC Krasnosar 3-2 on aggregate to reach the quarters.
The teams have met twice this season already in La Liga, drawing 0-0 in September, before Valencia came out winners 3-0 at home in the second game in January.
The teams met in the 2003/04 semi-final of this tournament, Valencia winning 1-0 on aggregate before going on to lift the trophy a few weeks later.
These two local rivals are just 60km apart and it seems strange to think that in La Liga, Villarreal have the better of the meetings with 16 wins to Valencia’s 14, but in their one meeting in European competition, Valencia edged through to the final 1-0, thanks to a penalty from Mista in the first leg of the semi-final of this competition back in 2004.
This season though it has been Valencia that have had the better of the meetings, drawing 0-0 in Villarreal in September before thumping their rivals 3-0 at home in January. Indeed, both teams have been something of draw specialists in La Liga, drawing a total of 28 games between them so far this season.
Defensively, Valencia are solid, only Atletico Madrid have a better defensive record in La Liga but they do struggle to score goals, netting just 33 in 30 games so far. Villarreal have netted more, 38, but have conceded 43 to leave them in a precarious 17th place in the league table.
This should be a close one and I think the first leg has all the hallmarks of being a typically tight affair between two domestic rivals and as such, I think a draw, especially given both these teams records this season, looks the right result.
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