The highlight of Thursday’s football action comes from the Europa League play-offs where just 90 minutes stand in the way of a place in the group stage.
Last week’s first legs offered plenty of action and saw us capitalise with a fantastic 9/2 treble, part of our incredible run of four straight winners, and we’re looking to take advantage with these selections.
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Astra Giurgiu V Lyon. 5:45PM
Former Champions League knockout stage regulars Lyon are hanging on to their Europa League dream by a thread following last week’s abysmal performance at the Stade de Gerland. Hubert Fournier’s side have one last chance to make amends but must be much better as they travel to Romania for this all-important second-leg encounter.
The Romanians shocked Lyon with an incredible 2-1 result and are now on the verge of securing their spot in the group stage. Two away goals means that the visitors must score twice to have any chance of progression and Daniel Isaila’s men will be confident. However, they cannot afford to slack off as the French side will be ready to punish any uncertainty by the home defence.
Nevertheless, Lyon’s situation does force their hand and that imposed attacking philosophy could make things difficult at the back. The hosts may not even need to score to secure their place in the group stage but the likes Kehinde Fatai will be eager to hit the target if a chance presents itself.
This tie is perfectly balanced to offer a cracking second-leg and BTTS looks a cracker at 5/6. The French have no choice but to attack and they should find the net – whether they’ll have the ability to salvage their Europa League hopes is another question altogether.
Hajduk Split V Dnipro. 6PM
Ukrainian side Dnipro absolutely dominated their Croatian opponents during last week’s home leg but needed a late comeback to secure a vital 2-1 first-leg triumph. However, the visitors can expect a much harder challenge in Split.
Hajduk struggled throughout last week’s encounter but the Eastern Ukrainian city is never easy to visit and Igor Tudor’s men will feel much more comfortable on home soil. The Croats have netted an impressive 11 goals without reply. The hosts know that Dnipro will provide much stronger competition but there is no reason that they cannot score.
Dnipro are a very good side, make no mistake about that, but we saw last week that it only takes a second to score a goal and the fact Hajduk need to attack could put the visitors under pressure. The Ukrainians have conceded in eight of their last 10 Europa League away matches and we;re backing Split to extend that record to nine from 11 here.
If Hajduk are to score, the crucial away goals rule would force Dnipro to seek a goal of their own. Fortunately for Myron Markevych’s are more than capable of doing that. We think the visitors will advance to the group stage but the Croats can push them all the way. Both teams to score at 5/6 makes perfect sense.
Debreceni VSC V Young Boys. 7:30PM
Swiss club Young Boys head to Hungary with a two-goal advantage but an Ibrahim Sidibe strike for Debrecen in last week’s first-leg ensures that there is still plenty of life in this crucial clash and we’re anticipating an extremely intense and interesting match between these two.
Both sides will believe that they warrant a place in the group stage but it is the visitors who hold the advantage. However, their advantage is still far from unassailable and the first goal in Hungary could be pivotal. If Young Boys do strike first then Ulrich Forte’s side will think they’ve got one foot in the next round.
However, one goal wouldn’t really change much for the hosts who require two goals regardless and that does mean that they can attack from the off. They showed their capabilities last Thursday and should be able to break through the Young Boys defence in front of their home supporters, making the BTTS a gift at 8/13. Debrecen have only failed to score at the Nagyerdei twice in the past 12 months.
Young Boys are the better side but on Hungarian soil this is a really tough game to predict. However, with such a huge prize on offer we can guarantee that both teams will be out to impress. Let’s hope that leads to goals.