CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) has fallen for the Europa League this season. Here he gives us his best bets for Thursday’s Last 16 second leg matches.
Ajax v Dnipro | Thursday 20:05 | ESPN
From the reports I read from last week’s first leg encounter, it seemed Ajax were robbed in Ukraine. The Dutch side had the majority of possession but just weren’t able to convert that into goals and lost the game 1-0.
Now, I’m hoping the tables will be turned in Amsterdam on Thursday night and will be backing the former European champions at 19/20 with Coral.
Let’s start with Dnipro. They’ve won just one of their five away matches in the Europa League this season. That was against Azerbaijan side Qarabaq, and overall they’ve won just four of their 10 competition fixtures. I’m still scratching my head how they managed to knock Olympiakos out in the last round.
Ajax have had a pretty solid season, and the old-fashioned purist in me wants them to go very far this season. Putting sentiment aside though, they’re a decent outfit.
Rivals PSV have all but wrapped up the Eredivisie, but Ajax have lost just one of their last nine matches, with seven of those matches wins. Their home form has been impressive too, and they held PSG in Amsterdam in their Champions League group.
With a 1-0 deficit to overcome, Ajax will be eager to be in a positive frame of mind and I think they’ll be too strong for Dnipro in this second leg. Odds of 19/20 are more generous than I anticipated and I’ll be backing that on Thursday night.
Besiktas v Club Brugge | Thursday 20:05
Another side playing at home I like (and at the same odds) are Besiktas. The Turks lost the first leg of their Europa League tie with Club Brugge 2-1 last week in Belgium but should be a different proposition at home.
Brugge have won less than half of their domestic away league matches this season and seem to have been guided to this stage via a favourable draw.
Michel Preud’homme’s men had to tangle with Scandinavian sides HJK Helsinki and FC Copenhagen in their group, and then drew another Nordic side in the last 32 when beating AaB Aalborg. When you compare that to who Besiktas have faced, it’s no contest…
The Turks gave Arsenal a mighty fright in their (ultimately unsuccessful) Champions League qualifier back in August, but then had to contend with their North London rivals Tottenham in their Europa League group.
Besiktas were smart enough to win that group, going through all six games unbeaten and then eliminated one of the form sides in Europe, Liverpool, in the last 32. There’s no doubt Slaven Bilic’s side have been running in a far tougher race than Club Brugge.
They’re unbeaten in the competition this season, sit top of the Turkish league and in my eyes should be too strong for Brugge here.
Ajax v Dnipro – Ajax to win (19/20 Coral)
Besiktas v Club Brugge – Besiktas to win (19/20 Skybet)
Like placing Both Teams To Score bets? Place a 5-fold or more on tonight’s Europa League and BetVictor will refund you if just one fails.
Sounds good, huh?