A week of European football means we welcome the end of week Europa league to our coupon. During these group stages it can become clear that some sides take it more serious than others.
What we are after are those games where goals will dominate and we think we have found a hatrick of them here at Goals Galore.
Shakhter Karagandy v AZ Alkmaar – 5.00pm Thursday – SkyBet 8/13
Shakhter Karagandy are best known on these shores for almost handing Celtic an early exit from the Champions League in the playoff round earlier in the season where they had a 2-0 lead after the first leg, only to lose 3-0 at Celtic Park. On Thursday they face favourites AZ Alkmaar of the Netherlands who currently lead Group L on joint points with PAOK of Greece.
The home side from Kazakhstan are favourites to finish bottom of the Group but have shown they can score goals. Despite picking up the single point they bagged three goals across their first two games in the Europa League and at home I can confident they can find the back of the net regardless of the opposition. In their last outing they threw away a 2-0 lead to draw at home to Maccabi Haifa 2-2.
AZ may not be looking forward to the trip to Kazakhstan but they know there is business to be done. Leading the group on joint points with PAOK they will want to finish top, and after a home 1-1 draw to PAOK last time out, they will not want to drop any points here. AZ have already lost a giant four games from ten in the league this season and having suffered the loss of a number of vital players across the summer, they’re paying for it. The Dutch side have not kept a clean sheet for six games, and I cannot see them rectifying it on Thursday.
Swansea v Kuban Krasnodar – 8.05pm Thursday – SkyBet 10/11
On paper, Group A is one of the toughest groups in the competition, St Gallen and Valencia are the two other competitors and at present Swansea find themselves top and Kuban bottom. Kuban will need a win here to give them any chance of finding a place in the top two and a pass into the knockout rounds.
Swansea are under no pressure to win after comfortably picking up three points in their two opening Europa fixtures and are likely to make mass changes to the side which turned over Sunderland 4-0 at the weekend. Despite an imminent line up change, the men coming in will be good enough to get a result here and certainly a goal or two. Wilfried Bony has yet to find his feet but did convert a penalty at the weekend, which may be all he needs to kick start his Swansea career. Bony anytime?
Kuban are not yet matching the exploits of last season, thus far they have only won three of their 13 league games which has left them struggling in 11th place in a league of 16. Swansea are likely to pick up their third Europa victory on Thursday evening however i can see Kuban getting a goal. the Russian outfit manage to get goals no matter the result and with Ibrahima Balde and Djibril Cisse, they have players who can convert.
Pacos Ferreira v Dnipro – 8.05pm Thursday – SkyBet 8/11
Pacos Ferreira currently sit bottom of Group E with just the single point and face the visit of strong Ukrainian side Dnipro. Pacos aren’t quite the side they were last season when they earned their place in Europe and are struggling in both league and cup. Dnipro on the other hand are a tough side to beat home or away and will fancy maximum points when they make the trip to Portugal.
As already mentioned Pacos are a team on the decline after a strong 2012. Many players have left for pastures new and the squad are struggling to settle. One player who has been brought in may be someone you recognise, on loan from Manchester United is forward, Bebe. Unsurprisingly Bebe has yet to make much of an impact and the teams performances have left them bottom of their Primeira Liga. I do however believe, being at home, they’ll score on Thursday just as they did in their last home Europa game, drawing 1-1 with Pandurii.
Dnipro are a far stronger outfit and have players who can score regularly such as Croatian international Nikola Kalinić. I expect them to get something out of the game on Thursday and I certainly wouldn’t bet against the Ukrainians. They’re full of confidence after a 4-0 victory on domestic duty last Saturday and are battling Metalist and Shakhtar Donetsk in the title race. Goals should be on the menu in Portugal.
A £10 stake on today’s treble will return £53.50 with SkyBet