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Europa League Tips: Thursday 8th March
by the Cheeky Punter
I’m a big fan of the Europa League, not because I like the football being played, but because I’ve found it one of the better competitions to predict (I’m pleased with my performance the last couple of weeks).
Things start to get a little tougher from here on in however as with just 16 teams remaining and each battling for a place in the quarter finals, the quality of the opposition will get markedly more difficult for each of the teams competing from hereon in.
As with most weeks in the Europa League, half of the eight matches will kick off at 6pm in the evening with four more getting underway at 8.05pm UK time.
This should be an interesting selection of matches to work through and here are my tips for Thursday night’s Europa League action.
UEFA Europa League Tips: Thursday 22nd Feb
March 8, 2018
March 8, 2018
AC Milan are currently 7th in the Serie A league table, level on points with Sampdoria, although their recent form is much improved.
They reached the Round of 16 with a 4-0 agg win over Ludogorets, winning the first leg 3-0 in Bulgaria before winning again 1-0 at the San Siro.
Arsenal are 6th in the Premier League with 45 points and they are now 10 points behind the fourth place side Tottenham, with 11 games to play.
The Gunners defeated Ostersund 3-0 in Sweden to make the second leg a formality but were stunned when Ostersund won the match at the Emirates 2-1. Arsenal progressed 4-2 on agg.
Along with Dortmund and Atletico Madrid, AC Milan were probably one of the teams Arsenal most wanted to avoid in the draw for the Round of 16 in the Europa League but fate has handed the Gunners a very tough test if they are to progress into the next round of the tournament.
Arsene Wenger must feel like the Europa League is his sides best route into the Champions League next season, given their poor league form and position and that task has been made all the harder by this draw.
Milan started the season in Serie A poorly as their expensive summer signings failed to gel in the way they would have liked. However, in recent times, the team have been performing a great deal better and have been on a fine run of unbeaten matches.
This should be a cracking match over two legs and I think whether Arsenal can progress depends on them grabbing an away goal. If they can, they could still go through but I think for this home leg, I can see Milan taking a slender lead with them to London in a weeks' time.
Moscow are currently 5th in the Russian league with 35 points, only two points off second place Zenit but 10 behind leaders Lokomotiv Moscow.
The Russian side scraped through their Round of 32 tie with Red Star Belgrade winning 1-0 in Russia for an aggregate 1-0 win over the Serbian side.
Lyon are currently fourth in the Ligue One table on 50 points, they are five behind Marseille in third but 11 clear of Montpellier in fourth.
Lyon produced one of the performances of the round to defeat Spanish side Villarreal 4-1 on aggregate following up a 3-1 home win with a fine 1-0 win away in Spain.
This is a clash between what I believe is one of the weaker sides left in the tournament in CSKA Moscow against one of the most underrated sides in this year's Europa League, Lyon. The French side have been in superb form throughout the tournament impressing in the Group Stage and also defeating Villarreal 4-1 on aggregate to reach the Round of 16 comfortably.
In contrast, CSKA Moscow dropped into this competition from the Champions League after being pushed into third by FC Basel and they struggled to defeat AEK Athens on away goals in the last round. They now face an altogether much sterner task against Lyon this time around.
The French team are particularly adept at hitting teams on the break with some very pacey attackers spearheading their counterattacks and this has proven especially beneficial away from home. My one worry for Lyon is whether the colder conditions could affect their game.
That said, I am still confident that Lyon can get a job done here and I am not going to get too cute with the bet by simply backing them to win on the night.
Lazio are currently third in the Serie A table but they are some 13 points adrift of Juventus in second place and 17 points behind Napoli who top the table.
Lazio qualified comfortably for the Round of 16 despite losing the first leg in Romania 1-0 to Bucharest, by beating Steaua 5-1 in Rome in the second.
Dynamo Kiev currently lie second in the Ukranian league table six points behind Shakhtar Doneskt but with a game in hand over the team above them.
Kiev only just scraped through the Round of 32 with an away goals victory over AEK Athens, a 1-1 draw in Greece followed up by a 0-0 draw in Kiev,
I have to say that I don't rate this current Dynamo Kiev side. This is a team that has produced some high quality teams in recent times but the current crop of stars just don't seem to be producing the goods, especially at European Level.
In contrast, this is a freescoring Lazio side who may well concede a fair few goals, but who bang in plenty themselves. They stuck five past Steaua Bucharest in the home leg after losing the away leg 1-0 on Romania and it is clear they have immense attacking talent.
I think that wuill be the key in this tie as I don't see how Kiev can keep Lazio's attack quiet in Italy, and then outscore them in the home leg. I think this has the hallmarks of being a very exciting tie, but I fear it may all be over in the first leg.
I'm backing Lazio to win here but Dynamo Kiev to score a goal in Rome, however it would not surprise me hugely if Lazio were to go on and win this game with a similar scoreline that they registered against Steaua Bucharest at home in the last round.
Lazio To Win & Both Teams To Score - £10 returns £31.00
The Cheeky Punter is an ex professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has worked for a number of top bookmakers including Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. He's also written for a number of leading news outlets including the Guardian, i (newspaper) and Soccer Lens. More about him here.