Europa League Tips: Thursday 12th March
This Thursday the Europa League reaches the Round of 16, with eight matches featuring some of the biggest names in European football.
Last time around we saw both Celtic and Arsenal eliminated from the tournament from the British teams competing.
That said, Wolves, Rangers and Manchester United all made it through and all with relatively comfortable wins over Espanyol, Braga and Club Bruges, although two of those sides now face notably tougher opponents in this next stage of the tournament.
We’ve had some positive results in the Europa League over the course of the season and I’m hoping to add to that tonight.
It is worth remembering too that some games may be played behind closed doors due to the Coronavirus threat and I have tried to factor that in to my reasoning where viable.
Here are my tips for Thursday’s games.
Europa League Betting Tips: Thursday 20th February
Sevilla are the most decorated team in Europa League history having picked up five victories in this tournament, including a period where they won the trophy three years in a row. They face an AS Roma side suffering domestically at the moment and way off the pace in Serie A and who will be looking to the Europa League to rescue an otherwise poor season.
That said, this is a game that could go either way over the two legs. Neither of the two teams were particularly impressive in their Round of 32 matches, Roma narrowly ousting Gent, while Sevilla required away goals to get the better of Romanian side Cluj.
However, both these teams do tend to sharpen up as the tournament reaches its conclusion. I am not sure where we are with the Coronavirus preparations for this game, it seems likely fans will be permitted to attend and as such, I think that sways this in favour of Sevilla.
I can’t see a high scoring game here and a 1-0 or 2-1 win looks most likely for the Spaniards, so I am playing it safe with this bet.
Manchester United came through against Club Bruges easily enough in the end, but until Bruges went down to 10 men at Old Trafford and conceded a penalty at the same time, things looked a bit rocky for the home side once again.
LASK Linz may not be a big name in Europe but they have been in good form especially at home where they have bettered the likes of Sporting Lisbon, Rosenborg, PSV Eindhoven and AZ67 Alkmaar this season. So United will have to play very well to get something here.
Solskjaer’s team have performed generally well in Europe, their reserve team trip to Astana apart, but even so, I think this is a much tougher game than the bookmakers are making out and I think United will be more than happy to come away from Austria with a share of the spoils.
For me, United just lack that top class sparkle and without it, they are looking beatable, or certainly easier to play against. As such, I can see this finishing either 0-0 or 1-1 and once again, I am going to pick the safer option here and just take the draw.
Rangers were excellent in the second leg of their tie with Braga, earning a deserved 1-0 win to progress from a tie in which they were 2-0 down at one point at Ibrox and in danger of picking up a hammering. That they managed to turn things around is great credit to the team and their manager Steven Gerrard.
However, they face a team that is a step up in class, if not more, in Bayer Leverkusen. The German side dropped into this competition from the Champions League this season and easily dismantled FC Porto 5-2 over two legs, winning both, to come through to the Round of 16.
It is also worth noting that Rangers come into this game on the back of one of their poorest runs of form in recent seasons, especially domestically. Steven Gerrard even said he needed time to unpick a recent Scottish Cup defeat against Hearts as he was so disappointed. Clearly, things are not great in Rangers camp at the moment.
I can’t quite see Leverkusen having enough to win this in Glasgow as Ibrox on a European night can be fearsome, but I do think they will score and pick up a draw and will then hope to finish the job off back in Germany next week.
Wolves came through their tie with Espanyol in superb fashion, despite losing the second leg 3-2 to a last minute winner, they led 4-0 from the first leg in England and so were very comfortable in that game and never looked in any danger of losing the tie overall.
Olympiakos put in a fine display to beat Arsenal over two legs, scoring a very late extra time goal to lose 2-1 in London, but combined with a 1-0 win at home, that meant that the Greek side knocked out last year’s finalists and progressed onwards in the tournament.
In truth, Arsenal probably should have put them to the sword more easily than they did but they were too profligate in front of goal and at the moment, this Wolves side doesn’t look like they are going to miss too many chances.
As such, I fancy Wolves chances of picking up a positive result here. Athens is always a tough place to go and get a win, even for the top teams, but with the European experience Wolves have available to them, and the fact that they are in decent form at the moment, I am backing the Midland side to come away from this game with a share of the spoils.
*Tips are exactly that tips (predictions) and do not guarantee success.