Europa League Tips – Thursday 8th April
We have now reached the quarter-final stage of the Europa League which means no more staggered kick off times across Thursday night, with all four games in this round, plus the two semifinals, kicking off at 8pm from now forward.
We have a real mix of teams left in this tournament and the experience levels between the teams could be a deciding factor in these games.
We have a number of teams with immense experience not just at this level, but also in the latter stages of the Champions League, whereas we have other teams that are making a rare appearance this late in one of UEFA’s top European competitions.
British interest in the event also remains high with Arsenal and Manchester United both still in the competition and both feeling they have winnable ties.
This should be an interesting selection of games and I have put together my tips for all four matches in the section below.
Europa League Betting Tips: Thursday 8th April
Ajax were dealt a blow at the weekend when key defender Daley Blind was ruled out for this game and possibly the season through injury. Despite that, the Dutch side are in such great form at the moment that they are the favourites to win the battle between two teams who were beaten Champions League semi-finalists a couple of years back.
Both sides have had relatively comfortable progress through this tournament in the last round and AS Roma’s up and down form means that you can never be fully confident quite how the Italians will perform. On their day they can be excellent, but equally, they can be awful too. A bit like Arsenal in the Premier League at the moment.
Looking at the recent form of the two teams, Ajax are clearly the pick to make here, the question is how will the game go. In truth, this is a difficult one to call as I think both teams are well-matched and I would expect there to be plenty to play for in next week’s second leg.
I am not going to over-complicate things here and pick a both teams to score or to nil option as I am not confidence in either, so I will take the smaller odds and go for a simple Ajax victory.
You probably think I am a little crazy here when I tell you that I am going to back Arsenal to win this game, when you consider that the Gunners were so abject at the weekend against Liverpool, while Slavia Prague are unbeaten since December and they have beaten both Leicester and Rangers 2-0 on the road in the last two rounds.
It all does tend to point to a Slavia Prague win, but here’s the thing. I think Arsenal are a side that can turn it on and off on a whim. My gut feeling is that they had their mind more on this game at the weekend, than they did the actual match with Liverpool as they have little to gain in the Premier League at the moment.
However, if they are going to stand a chance of silverware this season, then this competition is their only route and after missing out in the final a couple of years back against Chelsea, I think they will be fully focused for this game and see it as a good chance to progress.
Prague have done superbly well against Leicester and Rangers but I think Arsenal’s experience will be key here and I think they will take a narrow 2-1 win into the second leg in the Czech Republic next week.
For me this is a very tough one to call. Villarreal have lost just five games in La Liga this season and they are arguably the best team in terms of form in this competition, winning seven of their eight games in the Europa League this season.
However, Zagreb are very tough to beat at home, as Tottenham found out when losing a 2-0 first leg lead to lose 3-0 after extra time in the second leg in Croatia. However, I think Villarreal won’t be as naïve as Spurs were in this game.
Orsic was the main threat for Zagreb in that game and I think he will likely be the man to watch here too. I can see him scoring a goal against a solid Villarreal defence, but I think that the Spanish side will likely equalise and bring them back to El Madrigal to finish the job off.
As such, I think a 1-1 draw is the most likely option here and that is the selection I have backed for this game.
This fixture seems to have fallen somewhat kindly for Manchester United. They take on a Granada team that has lost all of its last three games and who have struggled for goals in general this season, despite a very solid campaign in La Liga.
United also have a fantastic away record in this competition, beating Sociedad 4-0 in Spain and then AC Milan 1-0 in Italy to ensure that they went through, despite drawing both home legs in those ties. As such, I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be delighted that his team are playing the first leg in Spain.
There are some concerns though. Bruno Fernandes has been a little off the pace recently, they did lose away to Leicester in the FA Cup for a rare away defeat and Granada have proven to be a tough nut to crack both domestically and in the Europa League.
However the Spaniards have benefitted from a relatively easy passage through the group stage to the quarterfinal of the tournament and I think they will meet their match here. I am expecting United to land a relatively comfortable win to set up an easy second leg at Old Trafford next week.
*Tips are exactly that tips (predictions) and do not guarantee success.