The Europa League is one of the more difficult competitions to predict results as you just are never too sure how seriously the teams will take each game as players are preserved for domestic duties. We are however able to pick out those teams and fixtures where the goals will follow, check out our terrific treble below:
Standard Liege v Red Bull Salzburg – 6.00pm Thursday – 4/7 SkyBet
In Group C, we have a lop sided mini league which involves Salzburg owning maximum points of nine from their three games, in second is Danish outfit Esbjerg with six points and at the wrong end of the table are Standard Liege who face the league leaders today, and Elfsborg of Sweden with just the single point, leaving the pair with a massive task to qualify.
Standard seem to be focusing a on domestic duties as they find themselves top of the Jupiler Pro League in Belgium after 14 games, ahead of Genk, Club Brugge and Anderlecht. These two sides met in the previous Europa game week, it finished 2-1 to the Austrian outfit and Standard ended the game with nine men and Salzburg, ten. We can expect this game to be equally as fiery with Standard wanting a little bit of the bragging rights. The home side have scored in each of their three Europa games and I can only see them making it four on Thursday night.
Salzburg lead the group and are expected to finish winners, qualification can be assured more or less with just a draw here but having already found the net nine times in their three fixtures they will know they have the attacking prowess to win. They too are having a successful domestic campaign and are already an incredible 10 points clear at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga. They’re season is showing no sign of slowing and having already registered, 7-1 and 8-1 victories in the league you would not be against them scoring a goal or two in Belgium on Thursday night.
Estoril v Freiburg – 8.05pm Thursday – 8/11 SkyBet
A win for either side here will give them a chance of qualification; on the other hand a loss will likely seal their elimination from the Europa League. Estoril are sitting on one point, at the foot of the table, their opponents Freiburg do not boast much more as they lie on two points from their first three matches.
Estoril’s only point of the campaign came in the previous game week against today’s’ opponents Freiburg, this was over in Germany where it finished 1-1, the Portuguese side will be aiming to go one better now they have gained home advantage. Estoril may not be the most famous side that come from the shores of Portugal but they’re able to hold their own against the better teams and never struggle to score. Only two weeks ago they put three past Maritimo and they narrowly missed out on taking points off Benfica in a 2-1 defeat, one month ago. In all three of their Europa fixtures both teams to score has landed.
Freiburg will be disappointed with their performances so far in Europe despite suffering only the single defeat which was 2-0 at the hands of favourites Sevilla, where Freiburg’s Diagne got himself sent off after an hour when it was 0-0. The German side also went down to ten men when they only drew 2-2 at home to Liberec, so if they can keep eleven men on the pitch I can see them getting a goal or two here. In their previous three away fixtures they have found the net seven times and I am sure they will add to this tally against an average Estoril.
Maccabi Haifa v PAOK Salonika – 8.05pm – Thursday – 8/11 SkyBet
Israel is never high on any team’s destination list and league leaders PAOK won’t be in for a picnic on Thursday night when they face Maccabi Haifa. The away team though will be full of confidence knowing they are within touching distance of qualification in a group which also contains Shakhtyor Karagandy and initial favourites AZ of The Netherlands.
Despite having only picked up the single point thus far, Maccabi Haifa can count themselves unlucky, in the opening game week they lost by the single goal at home to AZ, they then held Shakhtyor Karagandy to a 2-2 in Kazakhstan and only narrowly missed out on an away victory verses today’s opponents where Haifa were 2-0 up after 20 minutes only to concede three goals in a 3-2 defeat. I expect their luck to turn round and they may well pick up their first victory here.
Three more points for PAOK will guarantee qualification into the knockout stages of the Europa League, and with the opposition likely to come out on the attack, a countering strategy may just be the recipe for victory. Away from home the Greek side have faced sides of superior quality and have yet to lose and have managed to find the net including their match against Schalke in the Champions League Play Off where it finished 1-1, and they also replicated that scoreline in Holland against AZ therefore I am going to predict a hatrick of 1-1’s on Thursday.
A £10 stake on today’s treble will return £47 with SkyBet