WILL St Johnstone fight back and reach the next round of the Europa League? Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) shares his thoughts.
St Johnstone v Alashkert | Thursday 19:45
One of my best betting strategies in recent years is to oppose Scottish teams in Europe but I ignored that last week and supported St Johnstone in their away fixture against Alashkert. That backfired when the Armenian side won 1-0 at huge odds of 11/2. Ouch.
The odds for this game at McDiarmid Park are similar to the first leg – essentially an admission from the bookmakers that they underrated Alashkert last week.
The searing 90 degree heat in Armenia gave the Scottish side an uncomfortable evening last week and the mild temperatures of Perth will suit the Saints much better this Thursday.
Tommy Wright’s men have been very competitive in European competition at McDiarmid Park in recent years. Draws against Rosenberg, Eskisehirspor and FC Luzern since 2012 have given the club some kudos and hope with regard to the challenge they face here.
Alashkert of course played their first ever European game last week so the only other point of reference is the form of their counterparts in the Champions League and Europa League this season so far. It’s been a mixed bag.
Champions Pyunik only knocked out San Marino side Folgore by two goals overall in the Champions League but on the plus side Shirak are 2-0 up against Bosnian outfit Zrinjski Mostar and Ulisses drew 0-0 in Malta against Birkirkara. The Armenian sides are not disgracing themselves.
To sum up, it’s hard to get excited about a side at 4/9 who deservedly lost the first leg. St Johnstone should win but it would be lunacy to play at those odds. I thought Under 2.5 Goals may be a tasty price but it’s odds on.
The only price that sticks out is the 8/1 on an unlikely Alashkert win. Remember, this is a side who were too good for Saints last week, the pressure could very well be a negative force as well for the Perth side (imagine the ignominy of getting knocked out by an Armenian side?!) and it all adds up to a casual punt on the visitors. I’ll couple that up with an interest on Under 1.5 Goals at 13/5 with BetVictor.
St Johnstone v Alashkert – Alashkert to win (8/1 Paddy Power)
St Johnstone v Alashkert – Under 1.5 Goals (13/5 BetVictor)