MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) shares his thoughts on Thursday night’s best Europa League bets in games not involving English clubs.
Rapid Vienna v Valencia | Thursday 18.00 | BT Sport Extra
I was lower than snake’s belly last Thursday night. Having endured one of my worst ever punting week’s, I was royally humiliated, embarrassed and disgraced by Valencia in last week’s Europa League.
Gary Neville’s team had been crap for the majority of his tenure and I’d really felt Los Che were overrated against a spicy Rapid Vienna side, even at the Mestalla. That turned out well, eh?
Thankfully the betting game can turn back in your favour pretty quick and, despite the blisters that still exist from the 6-0 slaughtering Valencia dished out, I’m keen to get stuck into this fixture once more.
The Rapid players themselves were subjected to taunts and attacks from supporters and media when they arrived back in Austria and even head coach Zoran Barisic said of his side, “If you can’t deal with those kinds of defeat then don’t play sports. This match has left a wound but over time it will become a scar.”
The healing process begins in Vienna this midweek and I’m willing to wager the Green & Whites can at least make the Ernst-Happel-Stadion encounter more of a contest, and an entertaining one at that too.
Rapid have been silenced just once in their last 17 home games and accrued just four clean sheets across those 17 fixtures. And with Both Teams To Score proving a profitable formula in each of their last seven Europa League ties as hosts, it’s a decent starting point.
Visitors Valencia arrive in Vienna looking to make it four wins on the spin and although Neville has brought five youth team players to the Austrian capital, resting Dani Parejo, Enzo Perez, Andre Gomes and Denis Cheryshev, Los Che should be capable of adding to their tally of 11 goals in four recent fixtures.
Neville believes keeping the positive momentum and atmosphere going is important ahead of Sunday’s La Liga duel with Athletic Bilbao and although he’ll rotate his troops, I still reckon Valencia can play their part in a goal-heavy game. After all, the away side have managed just two shutouts in nine European matches this season.
With BTTS a little on the skinny side, I’ll take things up a notch and back Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score at 10/11 with Stan James.
Olympiakos v Anderlecht | Thursday 20.05 | BT Sport Extra
Anderlecht extended their unbeaten home run to 23 games thanks to Serigne Mbodji’s strike midway through the second-half of last week’s last-32 first leg encounter with Olympiakos.
The 1-0 reverse saw the Greeks slide to back-to-back defeats for the first time this season despite enjoying 61% possession in Brussels whilst winning both the shot count (11-8) and corner count (9-4) at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
But Marco Silva’s men remain bullishly confident they can overturn that deficit on Thursday night as they welcome the Purple & Whites to Piraeus. Olympiakos are awesome operators at their Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki home with passionate supporters creating one of the most hostile atmospheres on the continent.
The Legend have won 13 of their previous 18 home Champions League group-games and beaten the likes of Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Benfica, Dortmund and Arsenal when returning stunning W17-D0-L6 figures in front of their adoring fans since 2008 in Europe’s premier club competition.
Olympiakos have scored in 13 of their most recent 16 home games in Champions League action, have netted 57 goals in 23 Greek Super League matches this season and only failed to notch against the mighty Bayern Munich and Arsenal as hosts.
The Greeks defeated Anderlecht 3-1 at home just two seasons ago and a similar result looks well within their grasp. We can back a home win with Over 1.5 Goals at even-money with Paddy Power – a more than fair price considering five of The Legend’s six Champions League group-games featured at least three goals, as well as 13 of their 17 in Piraeus this term.
For what it’s worth, Anderlecht were runners-up to Spurs in Group J as they managed to see off an uninterested Monaco to make it to the knockout stages.
However, they do have a very poor record at this stage of the competition, losing five of their seven Last-32 games since 2010/11 and failing to score in five of these matches. The Belgians have been beaten in four of their last five away trips in this competition and returned W1-D6-L7 from their last 13 continental ties outside of Brussels.
Besnik Hasi’s side are also struggling domestically as they’re third in the Pro League behind Club Brugge and Gent with their road trip toils seeing the visitors slide to W2-D3-L3 across their last eight games as guests across all competitions.
FC Porto v Borussia Dortmund | Thursday 20.05 | BT Sport Extra
Last week we successfully opposed a shadow Porto side in Dortmund but the Dragons now have a fully-fit squad to choose from and look dangerous opponents for the Germans at their fortress Estadio do Dragao home.
Porto boss Jose Peseiro made six changes for the weekend match against Moreirense, where the Blue & Whites were forced to come from 2-0 down to win 3-2 on home turf, in able to prioritise this fixture as the Portuguese outfit bid to claw back a 2-0 deficit.
Peseiro was handicapped by a series of defensive absentees in Dortmund but defender Maxi Pereira and midfielder Danilo are available once more having served European suspensions so Miguel Layun should return to left-back with Marcano back from injury and set to feature at the heart of the defence alongside Bruno Martins Indi.
The hosts now enter this encounter with a different mind-set, knowing they must chase a result. Vincent Aboubakar will shoulder the attacking burden but expect Andre Andre and right-winger Jesus Corona to be deployed along with Yacine Brahimi as Porto go for broke.
Now I’m not expecting the Dragons to roar their way into the last-16 but I do think the odds are a little skewed in Dortmund’s favour. The Bundesliga travellers are the better side on paper but should a Porto side that’s W4-D16-L11 in 67 home European games since 2002/03 be upwards of 5/2 here? No.
I’m going to take Porto with a +0.25 Asian Handicap start here. It essentially sees my stake split between Porto draw no bet and Porto double chance, meaning we’ll earn a half-stakes profit if the match ends all square with a full-stakes profit ensured if the Portuguese side oblige.
Dortmund dominated the first leg from start to finish and should probably have decided the tie after 90 minutes. They rested a number of key players for their 1-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday and saw Ilkay Gundogan return to training on Monday.
But the Black & Yellows are without Sokratis in defence and that should see the unsteady centre-back Neven Subotic given a rare outing.
As I’ve said already, Thomas Tuchel’s troops are the better side here and contenders to claim outright Europa League glory but since early September they’ve W8-D4-L4 on their travels and I’ll happily take odds-against quotes on opposing them in the Asian Handicap market.
Rapid Vienna v Valencia – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (10/11 Stan James)
Olympiakos v Anderlecht – Olympiakos to win and Over 1.5 Goals (1/1 Paddy Power)
FC Porto v Borussia Dortmund – FC Porto +0.25 Asian Handicap (24/23 BetVictor)
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