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Europa League Tips: Thursday 20th February
by David Lenton
Five British sides remain in the Europa League as we move to the knockout phase and will all get their campaigns underway once again this week.
Four of them are featured in my tips and predictions below.
Both Manchester United and Celtic face tricky trips, to Club Brugge and Copenhagen respectively. Whilst at home Rangers take on a talented and in form Braga team and Wolves play Espanyol.
Remember, we have one set of games kicking off at 5.55pm on Thursday, with a second set of games starting at 8pm.
Europa League Betting Tips: Thursday 20th February
February 20, 2020
Jan Breydel Stadium
February 20, 2020
Jan Breydel Stadium
Club Brugge are comfortably top of the Belgian league with 61 points after 26 games played.
Brugge finished 3rd behind PSG & R.Madrid in their CL group to drop into the Europa League.
Man Utd came through Group L in the Europa League winning the group with 13 points.
The teams have met twice before, in 2015, United winning both games 3-1 and then 4-0.
Having earned a point from a trip to the Bernebeu to face Real Madrid earlier this season, Club Brugge won’t be too intimidated by taking on a Manchester United side that are nowhere near as talented that ran out 7-1 aggregate winners when the two teams clashed in the group stages of the 2015 Champions League.
United have lost in Astana in the group stages of this competition, albeit with a very under-strength side and I don’t think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be playing a weakened team here against a side that gave Real Madrid problems in both games they played them before Christmas.
With United needing a trophy to save their season, I can see them targeting the Europa League as Jose Mourinho successfully did a couple of years back and with the players they have in attack and the pace in the side, I can see them causing Club Brugge, who are not used to playing a team like United week in week out, a few problems.
I was tempted by the draw here and United to go back to Old Trafford to finish the job, but instead I am going to back United to grab the win, most probably by a 1-0 or 2-1 scoreline.
Copenhagen lie second in the Danish league four points behind Midtjylland.
Celtic are top of the SPL and won Group E by a point from Cluj to qualify.
They met in 2006 in the CL, sharing one win apiece across their two games.
Celtic have won all their last 8 games, scoring 27 goals in the process, conceding 3.
This should be an interesting clash between two sides that, on paper at least, look pretty well matched. Copenhagen are doing well in the Danish Superliga, well clear in second and four points behind the leaders, but they face a Celtic side who have now opened up a 10 point gap on Rangers and who won their group in the Europa League in some style.
Add to that the fact that Celtic have been on a blinding run of form of late, prior to their game on Saturday, and have been scoring plenty of goals too, which all makes for a positive outlook for Neil Lennon’s side to make a bigger mark on this competition than they have in past years.
In the past, games like this have proved to be Celtic’s undoing, but this Celtic side has a bit of extra quality to it. The Danes are no pushovers though, and it won’t be easy but I feel over the two legs, the Scottish side should have just enough to make it through.
They will have to do the donkey work in Glasgow though as the best I can see them doing here is a 1-1 or 2-2 draw.
Rangers have lost two and drawn one of their last six SPL games.
The Gers qualified second in Group G behind FC Porto to reach this stage.
Braga topped Group K pipping Wolves to top spot in the group.
From 2011-2012 Braga beat Arsenal, Liverpool and Birmingham in the Europa League.
This is an awfully tricky game for Steven Gerrard’s Rangers and comes at probably the worst possible time for them. Not only have they hit a blip in their league form which has seen them fall way off the pace set by fierce rivals Celtic, but they are facing a team that have beaten FC Porto and Sporting Lisbon both twice in recent weeks and who are on a generally excellent run of form.
Add to that the fact that Braga have a very good record against British sides, beating Wolves, Liverpool, Birmingham and Arsenal in at least one leg of their games, and the fact that they topped a tricky looking group and this looks like a tough ask for Rangers.
To be fair, Gerrard’s team have done well in Europe this season and they qualified well from a tough group, that went right down to the wire. However, with their form being as it is, I think this could well be a real problematic fixture for them.
I can see Rangers scoring, but I also feel Braga can pick them off on the counter attack as they did Wolves at Molineux and if they do that, then I feel the Portuguese side are likely to run out the winners.
Braga to win & both teams to score - £10 returns £75.00
Wolves are 9th in the EPL with 35 points from 25 games.
Espanyol are bottom of La Liga with just 18 points from 23 games.
Espanyol topped Group H while Wolves finished second in Group L in the Europa League.
The one thing that you can say about Wolves this season is that they have proven difficult to beat. Just six defeats in the Premier League campaign so far means that only Liverpool have fewer defeats than the Black and Golds, although drawing 13 games has hampered their progress up the table.
It’s been a miserable season for Barcelona’s second club as Espanyol are rooted to the bottom of the table after a disastrous campaign domestically. The Europa League has offered respite though with Espanyol losing just one of their six games in the competition to win their group comfortably from Ludogorets.
I don’t expect the Spaniards to come to the Midlands and attack Wolves hard, they will counter and I think Wolves will have more possession and win the game comfortably. However, Espanyol have scored in all their last seven games, and only failed to score in one Group Stage game, their final game when the result was meaningless as they had already qualified.
As such, I can see Espanyol scoring a goal, but I think on the night Wolves will run out 3-1 or maybe even 4-1 winners.
Wolves to win & both teams to score - £10 returns £38.00
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