FOOTBALL analyst Ben Levene (@benlevene96) oversees Thursday night's Europa League qualification action.
Universitatea Craiova v RB Leipzig | Thursday 16th August, 17:30
Ralf Rangnick’s RB Leipzig look set to move closer to a second-consecutive season in Europe after dispatching of Romanian side, Craiova, 3-1 in the first-leg.
Naturally, Rangnick will make changes – that means the likes of international stars Emil Forsberg, Yussuf Poulsen and Timo Werner, who were all unused substitutes in the reverse fixture, could feature.
The Bundesliga season doesn’t start for another 10 days and so this could be treated as a final pre-season game.
Leipzig face fourth-tier Viktoria Koln just three days before kicking-off the season away at Dortmund. With that in mind, this is the most likely stage for the Die Bullen big-guns to get a run out.
Craiova have kept just one clean sheet in five competitive games this season. Leipzig netted three times when far from full-strength. They can follow that up with another convincing win.
Leipzig half-time/full-time is 11/10 with Bet Victor.
Zalgiris Vilnius v Sevilla | Thursday 16th August, 18:00
Sevilla travel to Lithuania with a 1-0 lead. New-boss Pablo Machin fielded a full-strength XI in Morocco for the Super Cup on Sunday, and with the La Liga campaign kicking-off at the weekend, will surely ring the changes here.
Zalgiris Vilnius play on an artificial pitch and are fresh having played just once in the past ten days.
In qualification last year, Vilnius beat Ludogorets on home-turf. In the past seven seasons, they’ve hosted 12 European qualifiers and haven’t lost any by more than two goals.
Whilst Sevilla are the better team, there is value in backing Zalgiris Vilnius with a +2 Asian start at 15/14 (Bet Victor). It’s clearly a tricky place to go to, and Sevilla will surely not be at their strongest.
Burnley v Istanbul Basaksehir | Thursday 16th August, 19:45
Burnley were able to shut out Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey, and there’s no reason they can’t do the same back on home comforts.
Istanbul have another 90 minutes in their legs after, like Burnley, playing on Sunday. The capital-based big-spenders may boast big names such as Gael Clichy, Gokhan Inler, Emre, and Emmanuel Adebayor but that Clarets too have options.
Burnley drew goalless with Southampton yet had the likes of Tom Heaton, Charlie Taylor, Ben Gibson, Sam Vokes and Ashley Barnes on the bench.
Sean Dyche’s side proved last season in the absences of James Tarkowski, Matt Lowton, Stephen Ward, and Steven Defour that they are more than adept at maintaining performance with different personnel.
Basaksehir registered just one shot on-target in Turkey and it’s unlikely they’ll better that back in Burnley. It’s 5/4 (Betfair) that the hosts keep a clean sheet.
Universitatea Craiova v RB Leipzig – RB Leipzig/RB Leipzig half-time/full-time (11/10 Bet Victor)
Zalgiris Vilnius v Sevilla – Zalgiris Vilnius +2 Asian Handicap (15/14 Bet Victor)
Burnley v Istanbul BFK – Burnley to keep a clean sheet (5/4 Betfair)