EUROPEAN football expert Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) picks out his favourite fancies from Thursday’s Europa League action.
Anderlecht v APOEL Nicosia | Thursday 20:05 | BT Sport Extra
Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and admit, ‘I got that one wrong’.
Last week I heavily favoured APOEL Nicosia to collect at least a draw in Cyprus but Anderlecht inflicted The Legend’s first home defeat in 33 fixtures in a vital 1-0 win to put the Belgians in pole position to progress.
Les Mauves et Blancs ousted Zenit St Petersburg in the Round of 32 with a strong home performance and back at their Brussels base, the 1983 champions will be tough to turn over.
Rene Weiler’s men have claimed four wins from five on home soil in this competition this season, racking up 16 goals in the process. Anderlecht have also W11-D2-L2 across all competitions and W6-D1-L0 as hosts since November.
The hosts have been chalked up at short odds to secure a quarter-final berth with a second success over APOEL but we can bolster the price by looking towards the Wincast market.
Teenage sensation Yoeri Tielemans has hogged the headlines but Polish hot-shot Lukasz Teodorczuk has been in supreme goalscoring form for Anderlecht all season and looks a little too big to ignore at 11/8 (SkyBet) to notch in a home win.
Teodorczuk has banged in 28 goals in 40 appearances, scoring twice in three games since a recent return from injury. The Anderlecht striker grabbed five goals during the group-stage and is scoring at a rate of a goal every 115 minutes across all competitions.
Only three clubs still in the Europa League have landed more on-target efforts in the competition than forward-thinking Anderlecht and Teodorczuk is averaging two shots per-game on Europa League duty.
APOEL make the 3,000km journey without midfield holder Nuno Morais and their record on the road leaves a lot to be desired. The Cypriots have won only half of their 22 away matches this term but their European return is particularly unappealing.
The Legend have W1-D1-L5 in games as guests during Champions League qualification and Europa League duty this term, a sample that includes drawing at Welsh minnows The New Saints as well as losing at Young Boys and Astana.
The visitors leaked eight goals in their most recent three Europa League away days and have been out-shot 26-81 during their four matches outside Cyprus in this competition this season.
Roma v Lyon | Thursday 20:05 | BT Sport
Roma’s season is teetering on the brink. Luciano Spaletti’s side trail Lyon 4-2 on aggregate having let slip a 2-1 half-time lead in Lyon and are now chasing a two-goal deficit on Thursday night.
The Giallorossi lost 2-0 in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final tie to bitter rivals Lazio and were beaten at home by Napoli to put their second-placed position in Serie A under serious threat.
However, the two away goals from last week’s clash in France should give the Wolves plenty of hope and I’m going to count on Roma at least making a decent fist of a comeback by backing a home win alongside Both Teams To Score at 17/10 (BetStars).
Despite back-to-back losses at the Stadio Olimpico, Spaletti’s troops have been fabulous in the capital this campaign, returning fearsome W16-D1-L3 figures. Ten of those 20 fixtures featured BTTS winners including nine of the most recent 14 outings.
The Giallorossi have struck at least twice in 16 home fixtures and ended their three-game losing streak with a breezy 3-0 success at Palermo at the weekend. The hosts have kept only five clean sheets at the Olimpico in 15 since September and have been involved in plenty of goal-heavy Europa League games here.
Roma’s four home encounters in this tournament have featured 16 goals with three producing profitable Both Teams To Score winners and with Spaletti’s side pushing for a big victory to progress, Lyon should be capable of pinching a goal on the break.
The French outfit are looking unstoppable on home soil – winning eight of their last nine – but Bruno Genesio’s group remain vulnerable travellers. OL have succeeded just once in six on the road, losing on three occasions (W1-D2-L3).
Going forward, the visitors have notched at least four goals in seven of their past nine games but November was their last clean sheet outside of Lyon.
With the Ligue 1 title firmly out of reach and a top-three finish looking unlikely, Les Gones can afford to prioritise this competition in search of Champions League football next season; it should be a cracker.
Anderlecht v APOEL Nicosia – Lukasz Teodorczuk to score and Anderlecht to win (13/8 SkyBet)
Roma v Lyon – Roma to win and Both Teams To Score (17/10 BetStars)
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