Europa League Tips – Thursday 21st September
Thursday means Europa League Football in the big European weeks and this week sees the Group Stages of the competition get underway.
And once again, I am right on the action ready to bring you my latest set of tips for this increasingly popular and intriguing tournament.
Last season, it was Spanish side Sevilla who claimed the trophy, winning a record seventh Europa League title. They earned a place in the Champions League as a result, while last season’s Europa Conference League winners, West Ham, took Sevilla’s place in this tournament.
The Hammers join Brighton and Liverpool in this competition from the Premier League this season, while Scottish Premier League side Rangers are also battling it out in the Europa League too.
There are plenty of big name teams in this competition this year alongside the British teams including Ajax, Sporting Lisbon, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Betis, SC Freiburg, Toulouse, Lens, Marseille, Real Sociedad, AS Roma and Atalanta.
And that is before we get to the knockout phase when we get the eight third-placed teams from the Group Phase of the Champions League dropping into the tournament in the New Year.
I have to be honest and say that last season, I was a little disappointed with how my Europa League tips panned out and I am looking for a significant improvement this time around.
That said, I’ll still try to focus on the big games and British teams, but I’ll also be looking around for some great value bets from other fixtures too.
So let’s get cracking with this first set of Europa League tips for the season.
Europa League Betting Tips: Thursday 21st September
At one point last season, Liverpool looked like they may not qualify for any European competition but they begin a Europa League campaign for the first time in a good few years with a trip to the picturesque town of Linz to take on LASK.
The Reds have a fantastic record against Austrian opponents , drawing just one and winning all of the other games against them and in truth, they should not have too much problem against a Linz side who have started the season well in their domestic league, but who don’t play teams of the calibre of Liverpool every week.
The Austrian side are unbeaten in their own league and they have some talented players, but they are not on a par with the quality Liverpool possess in all the different areas of the field. It could therefore be a very tough game for the home side, if Liverpool can find their best form then they should win this comfortably.
After what looks like being a tough game away at Wolves, I think Liverpool may find the pace of this game more to their liking and as such they should land a comfortable win here.
Brighton’s very first European adventure begins with a home tie against Greek side AEK Athens and Roberto De Zerbi’s team will be hoping to make a solid start to their campaign in this home tie against one of the weaker teams in their group.
The Seagulls have made another excellent start to the season so far, bouncing back from a surprise defeat by West Ham to record a thumping win over Newcastle setting them up nicely for a trip to Old Trafford last weekend.
AEK Athens dropped into this competition when they were knocked out of the Champions League in the qualifying stages and as Greek Champions they are no pushovers, but like most Greek teams, they do tend to struggle on the road in Europe, especially against teams from the better leagues across Europe.
The way Brighton play is also set up for them to do very well in Europe as they have a fluid and expansive style, that sees them keep possession well and craft out chances. As such, I think while AEK may get a goal, I’d expect the home side to end up as comfortable winners.
Can Rangers bounce back from a heavy defeat to PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League qualifying round against a strong Real Betis side? They warmed up for the game with a win at the weekend which at least gives them a boost heading into this difficult encounter.
Betis had a very good season last year and they have started this season relatively strongly in La Liga too. They are a squad that have a number of players with Premier League experience and I always feel in games like this, that can prove to be an advantage.
Michael Beale’s stewardship of Rangers hasn’t gone as well as he would have hoped after joining the club in the summer. Defeat here would pile the pressure on him still further after a disappointing start to the SPL season. However, a win could well put Rangers season back on track, as well as putting them in real contention in this group.
Whether Rangers can get that win, I am not so sure. Betis are a solid side and they have shown they are more than capable of beating very good football teams. I feel the chances are that they may be the ones celebrating at Ibrox, but I do feel Rangers will find the scoresheet.
After the success of last year’s victorious Europa Conference League campaign, West Ham qualified for the Europa League this season and they will begin with an intriguing match against Serbia’s Backa Topola.
The Hammers opponents sit at the top of their domestic league after six games, ahead of the likes of Red Star and Partizan Belgrade. So, they are not pushovers by any means, even despite what the odds on a West Ham win are with the bookmakers.
Coming into this game on the back of a tough weekend home game, the Hammers will be hoping to get their campaign off to a winning start. Their groups is not particularly daunting and in my mind, David Moyes and the West Ham board will be expecting the team to reach the knockout phase of the tournament at the very least.
Serbian sides can prove to be unusually tough opponents, as Spurs found out against Osijek a few years back, or they can be much weaker than expected. Away from home, I think Backa will struggle and as such, I am going for West Ham to win this one by a 3-1 scoreline.
*Tips are exactly that tips (predictions) and do not guarantee success.