CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) shares his best bets from Thursday’s Europa League.
FK Krasnodar v HJK Helsinki | Thursday 18:00
I must admit I’m stumped here. I can’t work it out. I’ve done a bit of Googling and checked Twitter but as far as I can see the playing staff of HJK Helsinki haven’t been killed on the way over to Russia to face Krasnodar. So why are they 22/1 to win this game?!
Of course Krasnodar deserve to be favourites, but as short as 1/6?! The Russians reached the group stages of this competition last season but failed to win any of their home games when they got there.
Krasnodar finished third in last season’s Russian league and secured a brilliant win over Zenit St Petersburg at the weekend. Before that though they failed to win any of their previous three league games and sit in sixth place at the moment in the 16 team league.
HJK Helsinki were knocked out of the Champions League this season in the Third Qualifying Round but it was an incredibly close call. They lost 4-3 in Kazakhstan to Astana to go out by the same scoreline on aggregate. I’ve read some previews on this game suggesting that was a disgraceful result. Nonsense! The Kazakh’s are a progressive side and beat APOEL Nicosia on Tuesday in the play-off round.
The Finns also reached the Europa League group stages last season and won more games than Krasnodar. Torino and FC Copenhagen were amongst their victims and they also finished third in their group.
It’s going to be tough on Thursday for HJK but from my research there’s simply no way they should be as big as 22/1. I’ll back them to win outright and +1 on the Asian Handicap at 29/10.
Milsami Orhei v St Etienne | Thursday 18:30
Another side who look grossly overpriced are Milsami. The Moldovan side performed with great credit in their Champions League campaign and managed to beat last season’s group stage participants Ludogorets home and away in the Second Qualifying Round.
Let’s be honest, this looks a case of pauper v prince on paper. A Moldovan outfit with a silly name against the Gallic flare of a team named after an early-90′s baggy band. No wonder the bookies have gone way overboard.
St Etienne finished fifth in last season’s Ligue 1 but had an odd run in last season’s Europa League. They lost just one game in their six team group but failed to win any at all. Yes, P6 W0 D5 L1 was their record and they finished bottom of the table.
The French side failed to even score a goal away from home in the group and have began this new season with a defeat and a draw. I’ll pass at 4/9 thanks.
These sides met two years ago in this competition with St Etienne winning both legs 3-0 but I feel Milsami have improved since then. I’ll back them win outright and have a small poke on the draw.
FK Krasnodar v HJK Helsinki – HJK Helsinki to win (22/1 BetVictor)
FK Krasnodar v HJK Helsinki – HJK Helsinki +1 Asian Handicap (29/10 Bet365)
Milsami Orhei v St Etienne – Milsami Orhei to win (19/2 Boylesports)
Milsami Orhei v St Etienne – Draw (16/5 Bet365)
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