Following our second winning treble in just three days (both 9/2 winners) we’re determined to find the hatrick of winners here.
The pick of Thursday’s football action comes courtesy of the Europa League play-off round and every team involved will be eager to gain a positive first-leg ahead of next week’s equally crucial return matches.
With home teams desperate to take a lead to the away leg and visitors seeking a potentially pivotal away goal, we should be in for plenty of action. Hopefully these six teams will all find the target to give us a tasty victory.[toggle title=”£100 Recommended Free Bets – Read on…“]We recommend the following free bet offers that stack up to a massive £100. Why use your own cash when you have the opportunity to get free bets from the bookies?
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HJK Helsinki V Rapid Vienna. 5PM
BTTS Yes @ 7/10 with Betfair
Finnish champions HJK Helsinki take on Rapid Vienna for a place in the group stage and each side will be equally confident about their chances of progressing from this two-legged encounter.
A 2-0 loss at APOEL Nicosa in the Champions League was HJK’s only competitive defeat in 24 matches so Mika Lehkosuo’s men are in great spirits and prolific scoring form. The hosts boast the likes of Mikael Forssell and Dembar Savage in attack and their four main strikers have all hit at least six goals this term.
It would be a surprise if Helsinki fire a blank here. They might need more than one goal to claim a first-leg advantage, though, as the Austrians should find the target too.
A weekend loss to Rheindorf Altrach was the first game in which Rapid have failed to score this season and Zoran Barisic’s men have every reason to be confident ahead of their trip to Finland. The Austrians are favoured to progress over two legs but must put in a strong performance here – an away goal or two would go a long way to helping them reach the group stage.
This could be a fascinating end-to-end affair and, whilst we don’t think it will be the highest scoring game of the night, it certainly has the potential to be a BTTS winner.
PEC Zwolle V Sparta Prague. 7PM
BTTS Yes @ 4/5 with Betfair
The contest at the IJsseldelta Stadion has all the makings of a classic and the neutrals will anticipate goals as PEC Zwolle host Czech side Sparta Prague.
Dutch side PEC have enjoyed a fantastic start to 2014/15, winning their opening two Eredvisie matches as well as the Super Cup against Ajax, and will be confident heading into this fixture. Ron Jans’ side are a really hard-working outfit and will be gunning for goals in front of their own support.
Including the back end of last year, the hosts have scored in each of their last 11 matches, and we’d expect them to notch again here. Nevertheless, Sparta will pose a constant threat.
The Czech’s dropped out of the Champions League by losing to Malmo on away goals and Vitezslav Lavicka will demand a big response from his side in this competition, starting with the trip to the Netherlands.
Aside from the defeat in Sweden, Sparta have been very prolific on the road. They enter this play-off as the slight favourites and a big away performance could set them on their way.
Grasshoppers V Club Brugge. 7:15PM
BTTS Yes @ 5/6 with Betfair
Our final selection sees Swiss side Grasshoppers look for redemption following their Champions League exit as they welcome Club Brugge to the Stadio Letzgirund.
The Swiss side never really stood a realistic chance against French side Lille but are more than capable of progressing to the group stage of this competition. However, their hopes will rest largely on a strong performance in Thursday’s first-leg encounter and Michael Skibbe’s side will be eager to break through the Belgian defence.
Club Brugge enter this first-leg on the back of a six-game unbeaten start to the season. In Chilean striker Nicolas Castillo the Belgians boast a man who has already hit three goals this season and the 21-year-old could well fire the visitors to success again here.
However, following back-to-back score draws in their domestic league, Brugge may be feeling a little vulnerable away. On foreign soil, we’d expect goals at both ends.
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