Europa League Tips – Thursday 30th September
We’ve already landed some nice wins in the Europa League this season, and last season too for that matter, so I am hoping that the second match day of the group stage of this now much more streamlined tournament, should give us another profitable midweek.
There’s no doubt though that by reducing the number of teams in this competition, with the introduction of the Europa Conference League, it has had the effect of making the quality in the group stages much more even throughout and we saw that in the first round of matches when there was just two games that saw a team win by two goals or more (West Ham who beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 in Croatia and Lyon who beat Rangers 2-0 in Glasgow).
So what we have here is a competition that is now not only much more evenly contested, but which will probably be a but trickier to predict. Not that I am going to let that deter me, but I do think that it means I may have to consider my selections in this competition very carefully going forward.
Matchday 2 features some big games including Celtic’s home tie with Leverkusen, Rangers’ trip to Prague to play Sparta, Leicester facing Legia Warsaw in the Polish capital and West Ham welcome Rapid Vienna to London hoping to claim maximum points from their opening two games.
Other big games see Marseille face Galatasaray, Real Sociedad taking on Monaco and Napoli hosting Spartak Moscow.
Let’s now take a look at my selections for the Europa League games on Thursday this week.
Europa League Betting Tips: Thursday 30th September
These two teams have never met previously, so it should be an interesting clash between the two at the Pepsi Arena in Poland, formerly the Polish Army Stadium. Warsaw began well with a win in Moscow over Spartak on Matchday 1, while Leicester were pegged back by Napoli who earned a 2-2 draw at the King Power.
In truth, both team’s form since their opening group game has been pretty poor and both have lost several times. However, as one of the favourites to win this tournament, the smart money does seem to be going on the Foxes to kick start their campaign here.
They will have to do that without Wilfred Ndidi who is suspended for this game, but they have more than enough quality in midfield to cope without the influential midfielder and with Jamie Vardy back in amongst the goals at the weekend, the Foxes should be confident of getting something here.
I can see Warsaw scoring a goal as Leicester’s defence does look susceptible at the moment, but I think that the Foxes can grab a couple of goals on the road, maybe more, in order to land a valuable win in the context of the group.
Rangers were well beaten by Lyon in their opener to the group stages in this competition, while Sparta Prague earned a draw away to Brondby, in a game which they dominated in terms of possession but in which they could not turn that into a goal or two.
The Czech side are a very talented team with a number of top Czech Republic stars regulars in the team such as Krejci (number 9), Dockal and the new star of Czech football Adam Hlozek who is reportedly interesting a host of top European sides and who Rangers will already be very aware of.
Rangers have started the season looking a little less invincible in Scotland and they struggled against Lyon in their opening game. Steven Gerrard will know that this is another huge game for his team and it is one that they must get something from.
The problem is though, I think both the Scottish sides in this competition struggle when they are forced to step up in class from domestic level and as such, I think Sparta will do just enough to claim the win here.
After a brave battling performance in Seville, Celtic left emptyhanded after a 4-3 defeat. I do think that Celtic, like Rangers, do struggle at times when they are forced to face teams of a much higher quality than the majority of their domestic opponents and I think that could well be the case this evening too against Leverkusen.
The German side have lost just once this season, a narrow 4-3 loss to Dortmund in the Bundesliga, and they are a quality side that have a number of talented players who are going to cause Celtic plenty of problems, such as Patrick Schick and Florian Wirtz.
Lying second in the Bundesliga, Leverkusen are a quality team and one that does not look out of place in the Champions League and for a Celtic side that has already lost three times in the SPL this season, let alone the defeat in Spain, this looks a tough ask.
I’m afraid Scottish football fans probably won’t like me much but I do feel that the German side will come out on top here and end up as the relatively comfortable winners in this tie.
West Ham have been one of the more consistent teams in the Premier League over the end of last season and the beginning of this and they have continued these fine performances into the Europa League too.
David Moyes played a strong team in the opening game of the group in Zagreb and was rewarded with a fine performance and 2-0 win, in a place where Tottenham lost 3-0 last season. The Hammers should be very confident ahead of this game against a Rapid Vienna side that are struggling domestically.
Second from bottom of their domestic league, albeit with a game in hand, Rapid have struggled for any form this season but their better performances have tended to come when they have played their qualification games for this tournament.
However, I can’t see any way that Rapid will win this game if West Ham decide to go with another strong team selection and I can’t see why David Moyes would not do that given how well his team is doing at the moment. This should be a solid win for West Ham and 3-0 I think is about the right score.
*Tips are exactly that tips (predictions) and do not guarantee success.