MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) was handed the task of unearthing the best Europa League bets from the opening night’s 24 fixtures on Thursday. Here’s what he came up with…
Dortmund v Krasnodar | Thursday 18.00 | BT Sport Extra
Dortmund did the business for us at Hannover on Saturday, keeping their 100% record intact under Thomas Tuchel. It’s a club record too – never before have the Black & Yellows made such a fabulous start to a season and I’m banking on the Germans justifying our faith yet again this midweek.
BVB were rampant throughout Europa League qualifying, scoring 22 goals in four games and now have a scarily good 34-goal haul from those nine victories in all competitions. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have really stepped up to the plate and even without the injured Marco Reus, I’m happy to trust Tuchel’s troops.
The new man in the dugout has said, “It's not a given that you go on a winning streak, but it creates a spirit you only get through victories. Euphoria can always wane but we have huge ambition and don't plan to stop winning.” He said it himself – Dortmund are unlikely to let up on Thursday night.
The hosts are far too skinny to suggest a Match Odds punt but we can get them onside at 13/17 (888) in the Half-Time/Full-Time market. They sound like crap odds but in fact, it’s only just off a 4/5 shot and has proven profitable in all bar one of BVB’s Signal Iduna Park dates under Tuchel’s watch.
Krasnodar battled their way to third place in a difficult section containing Everton and Wolfsburg last season but were beaten 4-2 at home and 5-1 away to the Dortmund’s Bundesliga rivals Wolfsburg. They’re certainly no mugs – Oleg Kononov led the side to an impressive third-placed finish in Russia last season but it’s difficult to see them avoiding defeat.
The Bulls hammered Dynamo Moscow 4-0 at the weekend but have returned W3-D3-L2 in their opening eight Premier League duels and were held to a goalless draw at HJK Helsinki in the qualifiers. Sure, five shutouts have been kept in those league fixtures but Russian sides are notoriously poor travellers in European competition and I’m happy opposing them.
Dnipro v Lazio | Thursday 20.05 | BT Sport Extra
Europa League finalists Dnipro have fought off the vultures to keep hold of the majority of last season’s excellent performers. Wing wizard Yevhen Konoplyanka left for Sevilla but other than that, it’s almost business as usual for head coach Myron Markevych. That means being almost unmoveable at home.
Since February the Ukrainians have returned W11-D1-L3 at the Dnipro-Arena with only nine clean sheets recorded. They bagged victories in each of their last five Europa League contests on home soil and yes, they shutout the opposition in all five fixtures too.
Like last term, the bookmakers haven’t given the Warriors of Light the respect they deserve but that only opens up opportunities for us as punters and they have to be fancied to get a result against a Lazio side that’s still finding their feet in 2015/16.
Stefano Pioli's men make the long journey with injury concerns over the spine of their best XI – centre-half Stefan De Vrij, central-midfielder Lucas Biglia and striker Miroslav Klose are all likely to miss out and last season’s star performer Felipe Anderson has yet to even start a game in the current campaign.
The Romans have an unblemished record in the Italian capital so far but a convincing 3-0 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen ended their Champions League hopes and an embarrassing 4-0 hammering at Chievo really hit the Biancocelesti hard.
Dnipro’s inflated quotes mean we’re capable of backing them at 20/23 (Boylesports) in the Draw No Bet and that holds plenty of appeal. Lazio have only lost twice in 22 Europa League matches and the DNB angle just gives us a bit of security with the draw onside.
St Etienne v Rosenborg | Thursday 20.05 | BT Sport Extra
I’ll try and keep this relatively succinct – I think St Etienne are overrated. Les Verts’ W3-D1-L1 Ligue 1 start has put Christophe Galtier’s men just three points behind early pace-setters PSG but the French side have been far from fluent, far from exciting and a just a touch fortunate too in their early encounters.
In their last outing at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard they required a thumping long distance effort from Valentin Eysseric to claim all three points against nine-man Bastia. Already this season Bordeaux have left Sainte’s home with a point whilst miniscule Targu Mures also held out for a draw in the early Europa League qualifying exchanges.
Moldovan outfit Milsami were only dispatched 1-0 and not for the first time, St Etienne have been booed and whistled by their home fans who’ve become a little frustrated by the boring, grinding animal that Galtier’s moulded Les Verts into.
In last season’s Europa tournament, the hosts kicked-off the group stage with five straight draws: three 0-0s and then two 1-1s and a similar story should be expected on Thursday night. Sainte have scored just nine goals in their last 13 European games and only once netting more than one goal in a game. Yuck.
Rosenborg have made the group stages all the way from the first qualifying round and the travellers from Trondheim should not be underestimated. A full 23 games into their domestic league season, the Norwegians are 11 points clear (W17-D4-L2) and flying under homeboy hero Kåre Ingebrigtsen.
And the visitors’ road record in Europe is also demanding of deep respect (W7-D2-L0). I’m getting Rosenborg onside with a +1 Asian Handicap at 4/6 (BetVictor) – this bet means, we’ll get our cash back should St Etienne win by just one goal but we’ll be in profit should the visitors avoid defeat. The only way we’ll lose out is if the French club win by two goals or more.
St Etienne do hold a proud home record but have only beaten the one-goal handicap in five of their last 28 matches at the Geoffroy-Guichard and none of their last seven when hosting Europa League football. Rosenborg have been beaten by two goals or more just once in 34 Europa League games and not once in 46 outings in all competitions.
Asteras Tripolis v Sparta Prague | Thursday 20.05 | BT Sport Extra
To conclude, there looks to be a cracking goals-based bet in Greece with Both Teams To Score trading a sexy 20/23 (Coral) as Asteras Tripolis take on Sparta Prague.
Asteras have returned 13/18 BTTS winners in the Europa League since 2012/13 (including qualifiers) with four of their six group games against Spurs, Besiktas and Partizan banking in the same market last season.
The Yellow-Blue have made a mixed start (W1-D1-L1) to their domestic Super League but their 2-0 weekend loss at home to Panaitolikos was only the fourth time they’ve failed to net since the start of last season on home soil. In nine previous Europa fixtures as hosts, they’ve kept two just shutouts.
Sparta Prague are already topping the Czech Liga (W4-D2-L0) but have proven far from watertight at the back, keeping three clean sheets in their 10 outings across all competitions in 2015/16 – seven of their most recent nine delivering in the BTTS column.
All four of the Reds’ continental contests have witnessed Both Teams To Score winners with a total of 19 goals plundered in home and away ties with CSKA Moscow in the Champions League and Thun in the Europa. I’ll count on more of the same this Thursday evening.
Dortmund v Krasnodar – Dortmund HT-FT (13/17 888)
Dnipro v Lazio – Dnipro draw no bet (20/23 Boylesports)
St Etienne v Rosenborg – Rosenborg +1 Asian Handicap (4/6 BetVictor)
Asteras Tripolis v Sparta Prague – Both Teams To Score (20/23 Coral)
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