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Europa League Tips: Thursday 12th April
by the Cheeky Punter
We ensured a small profit with my last batch of Europa League tips, with the Lazio and Atletico Madrid games providing us with wins.
It would have been better had Arsenal been able to keep a clean sheet against CSKA Moscow, or Marseille find an equaliser against Red Bull Leipzig.
Even so, a profit is a profit and it all adds up.
The four quarter final games are all set to start at 8.05 on Thursday evening and most have plenty to play for with just a goal or two in it. The one exception is the CSKA Moscow v Arsenal clash which sees the Gunners taking a three-goal lead with them into the Russian capital.
Europa League Tips: Thursday 12th April
April 12, 2018
April 12, 2018
Two goals apiece from Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette have put Arsenal in a very strong position from the first leg in London.
The Gunners last trip to Moscow came back in October 2006 in the Champions League and resulted in a 1-0 defeat for Wenger’s team.
CSKA have a poor record against English teams, failing to win any of their last six matches against teams from the country.
CSKA can call on Kirill Nababkin who returns from suspension. Both teams should have relatively full-strength squads to select from.
It’s going to be very difficult for CSKA Moscow to have any chance of getting back onto level terms, let alone win this tie. The Gunners smashed home four goals in the first half of the first leg, with only a superb Golovin free kick in response and in truth, CSKA looked a class below the English side in London.
At home they’ll fancy their chances a little more but Arsenal’s better performances in the Europa League this season have come on the road, notably against Milan in the last round and they will feel confident they have the players to hurt the Russian side on the counter attack.
With Mesut Ozil in great form in the first leg and Lacazette back amongst the goals after a lengthy spell without one, Arsenal should be in strong shape here and while I can see CSKA getting a goal, I feel Arsenal will do likewise and similarly, should CSKA grab two then I think the Gunners will also get a goal.
As such, I think this one will end up in a draw, which will suit Arsenal and see them progress into the semifinals.
Marseille missed several chances in the first leg and trail to a first half Timo Werner strike that handed RB Leipzig a vital win.
Leipzig are the only one of the eight teams remaining in this competition that have never appeared in a major European final.
Despite that Marseille should be confident as they unbeaten at home in the Europa League this season.
Red Bull have already played French opposition in Europe this year, drawing 1-1 at home to Monaco before defeating the French side 4-1 on the road.
The first leg of this tie was a close call with Marseille enjoying less possession, but having far more shots on goal and more shots on target than the home side. Indeed the French team may feel a little aggrieved that they are heading into the home leg a goal down.
Red Bull however showed their quality to keep Marseille at arms length and the German side will have positive feelings for this game as their last trip to France to take on Monaco saw them emerge with a superb 4-1 win over their opponents.
However, Marseille have a superb record at home in Europe this season and the Velodrome is well known as being one of the most atmospheric and intimidating atmospheres to play in throughout Europe.
This is nip and tuck and in truth I fancy a Marseille win. 1-0 will see extra time but a 2-1 may be more likely and in that case, it would be Red Bull who go through on away goals.
Salzburg head into this game unbeaten at home in the Europa League this season, a proud record which stretches back eight matches.
Red Bull are top of the Austrian league, eight points clear of Sturm Graz. Lazio are currently third in Serie A, 21 points behind top spot.
Salzburg however will be without Samassekou who will be suspended, however both teams have a number of players at risk of suspension if they are booked in the tie.
Lazio’s 4-2 win over Salzburg in Rome was their first victory over Salzburg in three attempts, the Austrian team winning the two other matches between the teams.
This was a hugely entertaining encounter in the first game and saw Lazio’s much vaunted attack come out on top with a 4-2 win. Those two away goals though mean Salzburg, who are unbeaten at home in Europe this season, know a 2-0 victory will be enough for them to claim a spot in the semi finals.
The problem I have here is that Lazio’s attack is so talented, I just cannot see Salzburg being able to stop the Italian side. If the deficit was one goal, I’d probably back the Austrian side to get something here, but those two goals mean they need to commit more to attack and that I feel plays into Lazio’s hands.
I see Lazio sitting back and defending and then hitting Salzburg hard on the counter attack and in doing so, I fancy the Italian side will grab a relatively early goal and I think that will demoralise the home side and make the rest of the game a little easier.
I know Salzburg have not been beaten at home this season and Lazio’s record against Austrian clubs isn’t great but I really fancy the Italians to get a narrow win here to send them into the semis.
Sporting come into this game on the back of a poor run, losing three of their last four games in all comps, including two defeats in the Europa League.
Atletico Madrid in contrast have won five of their last six before their Sunday afternoon Madrid derby clash against Real Madrid at the Bernebeu.
Atletico have won all five of their games in the Europa League this season after dropping into the competition from the Champions League after Christmas.
Sporting Lisbon will be without two key players who are suspended for the game, defender Fabio Coentrao and attacker Bas Dost.
You cannot gift teams goals like Sporting Lisbon did in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final with Atletico Madrid last week. Both Atletico’s goals came from defensive howlers and a couple more almost led to further goals conceded but for some wasteful finishing from Diego Costa in particular.
That meant Atletico didn’t need to be at their best to secure a 2-0 win in Spain and that puts them in a hugely strong position heading into the second leg. A position from which I would fully expect them to qualify relatively comfortably.
Sporting have been tough to beat at home this season and have taken on some big teams in the Champions League Group Stages and acquitted themselves very well. However, they were not chasing a 2-0 deficit in those games and I think that opens them up to being caught on the counter attack by Atletico’s very shrewd midfield and attacking players.
Atletico’s back line is also strong enough to withstand most attacks and I fancy that Lisbon will huff and puff but not be able to get the result they need. At best I think Lisbon will claim a 1-1 draw, but I think 0-0 is a more likely result here, hence I am backing the draw.
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.