Napoli vs Real Sociedad | Thursday 9th December 2020, 17:55 | BT Sport
Going to kick-off my selections with the game of the round; Napoli vs Real Sociedad.
This bout pits two of the three sides contesting qualification from Group F against each other. Unless AZ slip up in Croatia anything other then a win for La Real here will see them return to Basque Country empty handed. Napoli, currently two points clear at the top of the table, need to avoid defeat to qualify to the knockout stages.
Given what is at stake I am keen to oppose goals here, as we did last week. Four of the Partenopei's five UEL games have seen fewer then three goals and they have only conceded more than one goal in a game on two occasions this season!
Italian sides are infamous for winning ugly so given the fact Gli Azzurri come into this one with a point to protect and with ‘football's great dog of war' (Gennaro Gattuso) at the helm, I don't see many goals here. I am happy to take the Goal Line of 2.5 available on the Asian Lines with Bet365. I've also used their Bet Builder to combine Napoli Double Chance with Under 3 Goals at odds of 6/4.
Real Sociedad's 2-2 draw with Rijeka in their last UEL game was the only time one of their fixtures has seen more than a single goal. Prior to this, their games have averaged 0.75 goals per game with the reverse fixture finishing 0-1 Napoli.
Line-ups permitting, I also like Dries Mertens prices in the shots on target market (Betfair and Paddy Power at 7/5 for two). Mertens is expected to start upfront, in his four appearances their this season he has scored four, had 14 shots (3.6 SpG) with two shots on target landing in all four games (2/3/2/2).
Rijeka vs AZ | Thursday 9th December 2020, 17:55 | BT Sport
Sticking with Group F, the other fixture sees HNK Rijeka welcome AZ to Croatia and as previously eluded to, only victory will stand AZ with a chance of qualification.
Therefore, the visitors will be hoping to replicate the result in the reverse fixture which saw them run out 4-1 victors. However, they will be without manager Arne Slot who was sensationally sacked mid-week. On the pitch, Jonas Svensson and Jeremy Helmer are injury doubts whilst Jordy Clasie and Ron Vlaar are expected to miss out due to COVID.
The referee for this one is Sergey Karasev. In the four UCL and UEL games he has took charge of he has given two penalties. In his last six games in all competitions he has awarded a total of seven penalties! Over the course of his career, Karasev has averaged a penalty every 0.39 games and in the UEL he has given one in 56.5% of games he has took charge of!
Given that AZ need to win, combined with the fact that Rijeka are yet to win in the UEL this season means AZ should see plenty of the ball and consequently have plenty of shots and touches around the Croatians box. All of which increases the chances of a penalty.
It is also worth noting that AZ have being awarded two penalties in the UEL this season, one in the reverse- which they scored- and one in their last game vs Napoli- which they missed. Domestically, they have being awarded three in their last five games, scoring two.
Betfair and Paddy Power have AZ to score a penalty at 5/2 and AZ to miss a penalty at 7/1, both of which appeal given the referees record. Of the last five penalties they have being awarded in all competitions they have missed two and scored three so I'm happy to split my stake to ensure value as a pose to backing a penalty to be awarded at odds of 5/4.
Wolfsberger vs Feyenoord | Thursday 9th December 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
Group F's bout between Wolfsberger and Feyenoord looks nicely poised as both sides are still able to qualify for the knock out stages. Our hosts currently sit in second spot, while Feyenoord dwell just two points behind them in third. If Wolfsberger avoid defeat they will progress but if Feyenoord win they will leapfrog the Austrian side, progressing at their expense!
With the stakes so high, I've delved into the player card markets as one players price for a card seems to good to be true. Unibet have Marcos Senesi at 3/1 to go into the book.
The Argentine centre back has featured four times in the Europe League this season, during which he has being booked in his two most recent appearances and was sent off on MD1 vs Dinamo Zagreb after he received two yellows in just over ten minutes!
If Wolfsberger field the same side that beat CSKA last week it would see Senesi line up against Dario Vizinger. Vizinger is Wolfsberger third most fouled player in the UEL (1.3), only fellow forwards Joveljic (1.4) and Dieng (2.3) have being fouled more times per game than him. Therefore, Senesi will have his work cut out vs whoever he opposes.
Referee Szymon Marciniak is yet to take charge of a UEL game this campaign but the last two games he has overseen have featured; ten yellow cards, three red cards and three penalties! All of which obviously bodes well for the selection…
Napoli vs Real Sociedad – Under 2.5 Goals (21/20 Bet365)
Napoli vs Real Sociedad – Napoli Double Chance and Under 3 Goals (6/4 Bet365)
Napoli vs Real Sociedad – Dries Mertens 2+ Shots-on-Target (7/5 Betfair)
Rijeka vs AZ – To Score a Penalty (5/2 Betfair)
Rijeka vs AZ – To Miss a Penalty (7/1 Betfair)
Wolfsberger vs Feyenoord – Marcos Senesi to be carded (3/1 Unibet)