AC Milan v Dudelange | Thursday 29th November 2018, 17:55 | BT Sport
AC Milan may have needed a late goal to defeat Dudelange earlier on in this group stage but they will probably be glad to be facing the reigning Luxembourg champions at San Siro on Thursday.
Dudelange have lost four out of four in their maiden voyage into the Europa League group stages, being outplayed on each occasion. Milan, on the other hand, are very much still competitive in Group F and know a victory would put them to within touching distance of making the next stage.
Whilst it is three without victory for Gennaro Gattuso’s men in all competitions, they have faced Real Betis, Juventus and Lazio, and two of those did end in draws. On the flip side, we can say it is just one defeat in six for the Italians. The Europa League is very much a priority for AC this season and they won’t take any chances against their low profile opposition.
Whilst Dudelange will look to enjoy the occasion, knowing this may be the only time they will visit this historic arena, they are likely to face the full force of the seven-time European champions.
The Luxembourg National Division is not known for being a league full of quality, but Dudelange are certainly being pushed in recent weeks. They’ve actually conceded seven goals in their last four in the league, and whilst they’ve scored 16 in return, those defensive shortcomings will be tested to the maximum by the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Patrick Cutrone and friends.
Milan have been making an impression at home this season, which is why we want to get them onside on Thursday. In 83% of their Serie A home matches, Milan have scored in each half. It is tough to ignore this fact.
Now, the odds for just a simple repeat in this clash won’t get you rich, with only a small odds-on price available. Therefore, we’ll go a little more ambitious and back Milan to Win Both Halves, which is priced at a more appealing 8/11 (Bet Stars).
Dudelange have been outplayed in every game so far, and with Milan needing to win, they’re unlikely to go easy and risk a 1-0 like they did in the away tie.
Bayer Leverkusen v Ludogorets | Thursday 29th November 2018, 17:55 | BT Sport
Bayer Leverkusen can already say they will be taking their spot in the knockout stages of this tournament with two group matches to spare. They currently top their pool ahead of Swiss side Zurich on goal difference, but rather ironically they have the worst defensive record in Group A.
The German outfit won 3-2 when these two sides met on matchday one, and then were involved in a 4-2 home win over AEK Larnaca, losing 3-2 in Zurich, before a more routine 1-0 win over the Swiss side last time out. Winning the group is very much their target from now on, and perhaps Ludogorets could be a good opponent for them to face.
The reason being is that Ludogorets can only finish third in the best case scenario within this group. Things in the group started so well when cantered into a 2-0 lead at home to Bayer Leverkusen before going down 3-2. They’ve at least earned back-to-back draws in the two meetings with Cypriot side AEK Larnaca, but that put an end to any hope they had of progression.
Still, the Bulgarians will see this as a good opportunity to gain some headlines before solely focusing on domestic duties.
With Leverkusen through already, there is a chance Heiko Herrlich could look to rest a few of his regulars, even if winning the group is still on the agenda.
A lack of consistency has been the issue for Die Werkself this season; over their last seven games in all competitions, it reads four wins and three defeats. They play a very open style of play which may lead to entertaining matches, but week-by-week it places some doubt when wanting to enter them onto your respective coupons.
Ludogorets have only netted three times in this group stage so far, but two of those did come versus Leverkusen back in September. Things are going swimmingly for them domestically, as expected, as they sit top of the Bulgarian top flight, losing just once all season.
Antoni Zdravkov’s team have lost only twice since August, and whilst both did come in European competition, they can at least travel to Germany without any fear, pressure or any real expectation upon them.
Leverkusen are very aggressive in their home matches, proven by the fact both sides have netted in 67% of their Bundesliga matches. We’ll back Both Teams To Score paying off here too at 10/13 (10BET).
The Germans have kept only 25% clean sheets in the league too, so attack is very much their best form of defence.
Krasnodar v Akhisar Belediyespor | Thursday 29th November 2018, 17:55 | BT Sport
Similarly to the game above, this is a case of a team top of the group facing an opponent who is already without any hope of progressing into the knockout stages.
The difference here is that Russian side Krasnodar are certainly not 100% through as they only hold a three-point advantage over Standard Liege, who sit third. Three points for Krasnodar are therefore vital on Thursday.
Krasnodar will certainly be pleased to be facing the Turkish whipping boys at this stage, rather than say Sevilla. A win would put them to the absolute edge of making the next stage. They do travel to Sevilla in the last group game, and they want to go into that with at least a fighting chance. Sevilla travel to Standard Liege (below) on Thursday anyway, but that is no routine victory for them.
Anyway, back to this specific clash. Krasnodar are having quite an impressive season all things considered. Not only are they top of Group J in the Europa League, but they’re very much in the Russian Premier League title race. They six in second spot, five-points behind league leaders Zenit.
Krasnodar did go on a three-match losing run in October, including defeat in Belgium versus Liege, but besides that we could say they’re unbeaten since August. Confidence is no issue at all for Murad Musayev’s men, and they’ve especially made the fairly new Krasnodar Stadium something of a fortress.
Only three times on home soil in this calendar year have Krasnodar tasted defeat. The already eliminated Turks are not likely to make that a fourth.
Akigo are going through an incredibly tough time at present. Even domestically they find themselves in the relegation zone in the Turkish Super Lig, so a trip to Russia, knowing they’re already out, is probably the last thing they want to be doing on Thursday.
Having said that, there should at least be some form of professional pride for within to at least make some kind of positive mark in Europe this season. They have the worst defensive record in the Turkish top-flight, and have conceded 12 in their four group matches so far. That did include shipping six away in Sevilla last month.
There is the nagging feeling that Krasnodar will look to somewhat coast through this game – only 13% of their domestic games has witnessed Over 3.5 Goals. They’ll back themselves to get the job done here, but this Turkish team may look to ‘park the bus’ somewhat and try to stay in this game for as long as possible. The home meeting only saw Krasnodar win 1-0 after all.
Krasnodar play a very patient passing game, so expect lots of side-to-side passing in the opening stages. We’re pretty confident on Krasnodar to win and Under 3.5 Goals paying out at 21/20 (BoyleSports).
Standard Liege v Sevilla | Thursday 29th November 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
Rather than miss out entirely on the 8pm fixtures, there is a cheeky little play we can engage with when Standard Liege welcome Sevilla to the Stade Maurice Dufrasne in what promises to be quite an entertaining contest on Thursday evening.
Krasnodar are likely to confirm one of the two qualification spots out of this group earlier in the day, but both Standard Liege and Sevilla are very much fighting it out to likely join them in the New Year.
Sevilla are priced at odds-on to secure victory in this game, but they will face a Belgian side who have won both of their home group matches. Sevilla may have won the home encounter between these two 5-1, but they can dish out some beatings at their intimidating home and then struggle to replicate that on the road.
It has been that way for a while. Sevilla’s last eight away matches in all competitions has yielded just the three victories, and one of those was against whipping boys Akhisar, but only be a slender 3-2 margin.
Pablo Machin has installed an offensive mentality into this Sevilla side. When thinking of the Europa League, Sevilla is often the club which comes to the attention of most. They generally have no trouble negotiating this stage of the competition, but Liege is a tough place to emerge victorious.
In the whole of 2017 and including up to this stage in 2018, we can count on one hand the amount of times Standard have lost at home in the league. Whilst some may argue the Belgian league is not the strongest, it is certainly an intimidating atmosphere and Sevilla are likely to leave knowing they’ve been in a game.
The first thought with these two clubs is goals, goals and more goals. There is a number of similarities between the two in how they play the game. Over half of Liege’s league games has beaten the 2.5 line, whilst the same can be said for 62% of Sevilla’s clash in La Liga this season.
Although there is lots at stake here, Liege need to be trying to win this game, so they can’t afford to sit back. They’ll try to take some risks at some stage and Sevilla naturally always play to win.
Both teams have scored in 67% of Sevilla’s away league contests and the same in exactly half of Standard Liege’s in Belgium too. Both will go for this, therefore, we’ll back Over 2.5 Goals at 8/11 (Marathon).
AC Milan v Dudelange – Milan to Win Both Halves (8/11 BetStars)
Bayer Leverkusen v Ludogorets – Both Teams To Score (10/13 10BET)
Krasnodar v Akhisar Belediyespor – Krasnodar to win and Under 3.5 Goals (21/20 Boylesports)
Standard Liege v Sevilla – Over 2.5 Goals (8/11 Marathon)