TWO bets for Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) in the early Europa League games on Thursday.
FK Krasnodar v Lille | Thursday 17:00
I must confess I found the earlier Europa League games hard to get my head round. Nothing massively stood out so I'll be betting in pennies rather than pounds. I like the look of Krasnodar in this early kick off.
With Group H leaders Everton and Wolfsburg taking each other in Germany, this is an ideal opportunity for either of these sides to make a final push towards knockout stage qualification.
The home side began this group in decent style with a draw in France against Thursday's opponents followed by holding Everton at home two weeks ago. Since then they've had a tough couple of games against Wolfsburg. They lost 4-2 at home on Matchday 3 and were then beaten up 5-1 at the Volkswagen Arena three weeks ago. How has that affected them?
Well, in domestic terms, not a jot. Since that second Wolfsburg loss, they've beaten Rubin Kazan and CSKA Moscow on home turf and moved up to second in the table. Nae bother.
It's been a pretty miserable season for Lille. Dumped out of the Champions League by Porto, they've struggled in the Europa League. With just two goals scored (only four sides out the 48 have scored fewer) and no wins to their name they really have to win in Russia to stay in the tournament.
There's not much to suggest that they can do that though. They failed to beat Krasnodar on their own pitch in September and are going through an awful run in Ligue 1 with five defeats from their last seven matches. Ouch.
It's Krasnodar for me here. And at 23/20 with BetVictor I can't say no.
Sparta Prague v Napoli | Thursday 18:00 | BT Sport 2
You need to find a second bet Chris. Really? Yeah. Okay, this one looks alright.
Group I is the focus here as the top two in the section, Napoli and Sparta Prague do battle at the Generali Arena in Prague. Both sides have nine points in their armoury so far and could wrap up qualification together here.
Let's start with the home side. They went down 3-1 to Napoli in September on the opening matchday, but since then have been exemplary with a 3-1 win over a buoyant Young Boys side followed by two easy win-to-nil victories over enemies Slovan Bratislava. They're as big as 2/1 with BetVictor to win this match and I couldn't put anyone off that bet. 10 wins out of 12 in all competitions also warm the heart.
Napoli had an awful start to the season but Rafa Benitez's side really have improved since the autumn leaves started falling. They won their first two Europa League ties but then suffered a loss to Young Boys in Switzerland in October. That wrong was righted two weeks later when they smashed them up 3-0 in Naples and it leaves them on the cusp of the knockout stages.
One defeat in 12 for Napoli is hugely impressive, as is the fact that they've scored 16 in the six games since that defeat. Throw in that Sparta Prague have notched in 12 of their last 13 games and the Both Teams To Score bet looks lovely. It's 8/11 with Ladbrokes and that seems fair.