EUROPEAN football expert Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) made us a small fortune on the Europa League last season. Here’s his favourite fancies from Thursday’s evening kick-offs.
Lazio v Nice | Thursday 2nd November 2017, 20:05 | BT Sport
Lazio thrashed beleaguered Benevento 5-1 on Sunday to extend their winning streak to eight across all competitions. That sample includes a terrific 2-1 triumph away to Juventus and a 3-1 victory at Thursday night’s visitors Nice.
The Biancocelesti have bagged 28 points from their first 11 league matches, won on nine occasions, plundered 31 goals and boast a +19 goal difference – all of which are club record at this stage of the season.
Simone Inzaghi’s side have been mesmeric and deservedly occupy a top-four position in a thrilling Serie A. Inzaghi has been keen to rest and rotate his squad this season and is likely to do so again here. But even so, it’s difficult to dismiss the capital club’s claims at the Stadio Olimpico.
The Eagles have taken top honours in five of their six Europa League games in Rome since 2015/16, covering the one-goal handicap on four occasions and notching at least three goals in four of those six fixtures. Therefore, I’ll support Lazio to win and Over 1.5 Goals at 4/5 (BetStars).
Nice were the competition’s joint-top scorers before being putting in their place by the Biancocelesti a fortnight ago and Les Aiglons had already been comfortably beaten 2-0 twice by Italian opposition this term as Napoli eased past the Ligue 1 guests in Champions League qualification.
Lucien Favre’s troops have struggled to live up to the heady heights of last season and the Riviera outfit are down in 17th following a fifth defeat on the spin across all competitions – that was a 3-0 beating at PSG on Friday night and Nice’s tailspin should continue here.
Last season’s key midfielders, Wylan Cyprien and Jean Michael Seri remain absent and without them Les Aiglons have lacked any sort of control in the middle of the park. The visitors have lost four of six away trips by more than a solitary strike and another comfortless loss beckons at the Olimpico.
Steaua Bucharest v Hapoel Be’er Sheva | Thursday 2nd November 2017, 20:05 | BT Sport
FCSB – the artist formerly known as Steaua Bucharest – ousted Viktoria Plzen 6-3 on aggregate during Champions League qualification but were dumped out of Europe’s premier club competition Sporting Lisbon in the summer.
The Red & Blues replaced legend Laurentiu Reghecampf with Nicolae Dica in the summer and strengthened their squad with the additions of Constantin Budescu and Flipe Teixeira as the Romanian royalty prepared for their first bash on the continental scene since 2013.
Having never progressed from a group in seven attempts but are on the cusp of qualification following a superb 100% return from their first three pool outings. Plzen have been battered again whilst Lugano and Hapoel Be’er Sheva were both beaten 2-1 on their travels.
Thursday night’s hosts have W9-D2-L0 in their last 11 outings now and are priced attractively to continue their winning streak in the capital this midweek. Dica’s men have only failed to score twice this term and their incisive attacking performances should lead us towards a goal-heavy game.
With that in mind, I’m bolstering the odds on a home success by adding Over 1.5 Goals to the equation for odds of 6/5 (Betfair) on Steaua here. We’re effectively backing the Red & Blues to pocket the points by any correct scoreline other than 1-0.
The Bucharest boys have already claimed 16 triumphs across all competitions this term with only one victory arriving by the 1-0 correct score. And only one of their home fixtures has failed to feature at least two goals under Dica’s watch.
Hapoel Be’er Sheva are already six points adrift of top spot after only eight games domestically and the Israeli champions have failed to live up to last season’s wonderful campaign.
The Camels dominated proceedings last term, taking the title by a 13-point winning margin and losing just three of 36 games along the way.
Barak Bakhar’s men managed a scratchy victory over Lugano but comfortably dispatched by Plzen and suffered a damaging home defeat against Steaua two weeks ago.
Goals do tend to flow in Be’er Sheva matches – nine of their past 10 have delivered for Both Teams To Score backers , including seven of their last eight on their travels – whilst only three of their 23 games have produced fewer than two goals.
Lazio v Nice – Lazio to win and Over 1.5 Goals (4/5 BetStars)
Steaua Bucharest v Hapoel Be’er Sheva – Steaua Bucharest to win and Over 1.5 Goals (6/5 Betfair)