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Europa League Tips: Thursday 7th March
by David Lenton
If it is a Champions League week, then it is also a Europa League week.
It’d funny that the competition that nobody in the top six in the Premier League wants to be in, suddenly becomes rather more interesting when you get down to the final 16 teams and the carrot of a place in the Champions League next season is all the more apparent.
Over the years, the Europa League has been good to me with my tips, perhaps more so than the Champions League and I am hopeful that this selection of tips for the games on Thursday night, will stand me in good stead.
Europa League Betting Tips: Thursday 7th March
March 7, 2019
March 7, 2019
Frankfurt lie in 5th place in the Bundesliga and they are yet to be beaten in the Europa League this season, winning seven of their eight games played.
Inter lie 3th in Serie A a point behind AC Milan but well off the pace of Napoli & Juve. They dropped into the Europa League from the Champions League.
Frankfurt did the double over Lazio in the Europa League, winning 2-1 and 4-1. Inter’s last tie against German opponents saw them lose 2-5 on aggregate to Wolfsburg in 2015.
The two teams have never met previously in European competition.
For me, this is the most intriguing game of the Round of 16 in the Europa League. Inter Milan may have the pedigree of being a top Italian and European side, they were Champions League winners not that long ago under Jose Mourinho, but they are facing one of the most exciting, freescoring and dynamic sides in the competition in Eintracht Frankfurt.
The German side have been superb in this competition this season, winning seven of their eight matches in the competition thus far and drawing the other to make steady progress through the Group Stage and previous round and they are certainly one of the teams that the ‘big boys’ left in the competition would have wanted to avoid in the knockout phase.
Much of their success has been built on the successful partnership of Sebastian Haller and Luka Jovic in attack. Jovic has already been attracting interest from some of European football’s elite clubs and though he is on loan at Frankfurt from Benfica, he may still be the subject of some big offers come the summer months.
Inter though have an excellent squad themselves and oodles of top class experience at the highest levels, so this is going to be an intriguing encounter, although it is one that I am backing the Germans to win in the first leg so they will have something to defend in the San Siro next week.
Rennes occupy 10th spot in Ligue 1 with 37 points from their 26 games, and have good form of late. They eliminated Real Betis in the last round.
The Gunners come through despite losing the first leg against BATE Borisov, they lie fifth in the Premier League table with 57 points from 29 games.
One worry for Arsenal fans will be the absence of Alexander Lacazette with the Frenchman serving the second game of his two-match suspension for being dismissed in Borisov.
Rennes have never met Arsenal previously in European competition.
Arsenal fans will know that their away form in this competition has been a bit questionable at times this season, especially in the last round where they went down to a surprise 1-0 defeat to BATE Borisov in Belarus. They will want to avoid a similar result here against a Rennes side that are in great form at the moment.
Although only midway in the French League this season, Rennes surprised many people when after a 3-3 draw on home soil against Betis, they then went to Seville and produced a superb display to defeat the Spaniards 3-1 in their own backyard, a warning if it was needed that this is a team that can get results home or away.
Arsenal though come into the game in better form having won three and drawn one of their last four and they produced a solid display against Tottenham at Wembley at the weekend to claim a 1-1 draw against the third-placed Spurs.
Injuries have hit the Arsenal back line hard, especially in the right back area, and no doubt Rennes will try and exploit this, but I feel the Gunners have enough quality to do enough to earn a positive draw on the night, scoring an away goal in the process most likely and they they can try to finish things off in London next week, though as Betis showed, that may be easier said than done.
Chelsea are still unbeaten in the Europa League this season and they are 6th in the Premier League, albeit with a game in hand which could see them move up to 4th place.
Dynamo came through in Group K losing just one game on their way to topping the group. They lie 2nd in the Ukrainian Premier League 7 points behind Shakhtar Donetsk.
Both sides should be relatively unhampered by injuries and suspensions heading into the game, which will be Kiev’s 23rd game against English opponents.
The teams have met twice previously in the group stage of the 2015-16 Champions League, Chelsea won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge before the teams played out a 0-0 draw in Kyiv.
Having met Dynamo Kiev before in the Champions League four years ago, Chelsea will be under no illusions as to how difficult the Ukrainian side can be to get the better of. However, since that meeting, I feel both teams are slightly inferior to the sides that met in the Premiere European competition back then.
Chelsea have struggled in recent weeks under Mauricio Sarri and with well documented incidents with his keeper Kepa and rumours that the Italian was under pressure facing the sack, it is to his credit that Chelsea have won their last two games and still could move into fourth spot in the Premier League should they win their game in hand with Brighton.
Kyiv though should not be overlooked. They have done the double over a talented Rennes side in the group stage of the competition and they also won their group at a canter, meaning their final day loss to Jablonec meant little in the context of the group. They also knocked out a talented Olympiakos team in the last round too.
That said, I still feel Chelsea will be too strong for the visitors here and I would expect them to take a lead of perhaps 2-0 with them into the second leg next week, hence I am going to back the home side to win this one to nil.
Napoli lie second in Serie A but they are well off the pace being set at the top by Juventus. They dropped into this tournament from the Champions League group stages.
Red Bull Salzburg are top of the Austrian league and won all six of their group stage games . They lost 2-1 in Bruges to Club Bruges, but won the second leg 4-0 to progress.
Napoli came through the Round of 16 comfortably with a 3-1 away win to FC Zurich followed up by a 2-0 home victory for a 5-1 aggregate win.
The two teams are yet to play against each other in European competition.
I have a sneaky feeling that if there is going to be an upset in this round of the competition, then maybe Red Bull Salzburg could be the team that provides it. They face a talented Napoli side who are well clear of the rest in second place in Serie A, but still well off the pace being set by Juventus at the top of the table.
Red Bull though have shown their quality by coming through their group with six wins from six games and then they made light work of Club Bruges in the Round of 32, losing 2-1 in Belgium but producing a sterling performance to beat the former Champions league side 4-0 in Salzburg in the second leg.
Napoli in contrast had a straightforward time of it winning both legs against FC Zurich and I do fancy the Italians to win this game, although previous games with Salzburg suggests that it will be a tight and low scoring game.
With that in mind, I am backing Napoli to win this game by a 1-0 scoreline and backing them to win to nil therefore makes sense, however don’t rule Salzburg out of things just yet as I think if they go into the second leg just a goal behind, they have a great chance of knocking out the Italian side.
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