It’s not all about the Champions League – there are also some great Europa League betting tips around too. It’s week one of the Europa League group stages and there’s plenty to keep British football fanatics interested. The likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Rangers and Celtic are all in action. As well as this there are some famous names playing from across the continent.
With no less than 24 games taking place between 5.55pm and 9.45pm on Thursday, it’s an accumulator backer’s dream. Armchair fans are also well looked after thanks to BT Sport who screen every match live. Our team of betting experts help you pick the punts worth having, leaving you to schedule your viewing.
Villareal v Rangers
This will be the third meeting of these sides in competitive action; however, each of the previous two ended in a draw. The teams last met in the Champions League during the 2005/2006 campaign, and what a pair of ties it turned out to be.
The rivals battled out a thrilling 2-2 finish at Ibrox in the first-leg. Juan Riquelme opened the scoring in the eighth minutes from the penalty spot; shortly after, Peter Lovenkrands levelled up on 22. Diego Forlan then found the net to ensure The Yellow Submarine went into the break 2-1 ahead. However, there was to be one final twist in the tale; Juan Pena knocked the ball past his own goalkeeper under late pressure.
The show moved to Spain a fortnight later and again the teams couldn’t be separated. Rangers needed the win and got their noses in front early with Lovenkrands exploding out of the traps to nick a goal. That was cancelled out in the second period through a Rodolfo Arruabarrena response; this saw Villarreal sneaking through on the away goal rule.
Home Win Favourite
The home side is favourites with bookmakers to secure the points on Thursday. However, they go in having suffered a poor start to the La Liga season. A run of one win, a draw and two defeats has Javier Calleja’s men down in 14th; currently, they are sitting one point better than the relegation zone.
They did pick up a vital win over Leganes on Sunday, nicking a 1-0 on the road to ease the pressure. That hard-fought positive would’ve added a bit of much-needed confidence to the ranks ahead of Thursday’s clash and traders expect the locals to build on the performance. The 1/3 you’ll find at bet365 is tight enough but rates as one of the more generous quotes, 3/10 the norm.
Gers Big Price for The Upset
‘Both teams to score’ for a third game on the bounce between Villarreal and The Gers is sure to feature in a fair share of midweek accumulators. There are odds of 6/5 for this up for grabs at Coral. Fancy pushing the boat out a little? Try out ‘both teams to score in a home win’ and you’ll receive the profits from 12/5 odds at Coral if the game goes to plan.
Rangers head to Spain on the back of a comfortable 4-0 home win over Dundee in the Scottish Premiership. As far as warm-ups go it was as near to perfect as blues manager Steven Gerrard could’ve hoped for. The gaffer even had the luxury of bringing off a few of his big-game players to ensure they got the rest needed for the challenge that lies ahead.
The Scots upset the odds somewhat to reach the group stages of this competition, coming through four qualifying rounds. However, bookies expect their luck to run out when things get serious and the level of competition increases. Those loyal to the Rangers cause will be delighted to find 10/1 (Ladbrokes) on the away day. Prefer to put your trust in the trends? Another draw between the teams appeals at 4/1 at Ladbrokes.
Paok Saloniki v Chelsea
Chelsea is off to Greece where they’ll play Super League runners up PAOK Salonika. This is a match that the current Premier League leaders really should be winning – if they fancy it. We’ve seen both sides of the coin from British sides in this competition over the years.
Manchester United recognised it for what it is, a real shot at getting into the Champions League as winners. This means they can avoid the ruthless race for a top-four Premier League finish. Meanwhile, others regard it as nothing more than an inconvenience, especially at this stage. They see the squad sent to far-flung corners of Europe when they’d be better suited to resting in preparation for the weekend’s push for points.
How will Chelsea set-up? There’s no doubt they are good enough to go all the way and lift silverware. However, it’s unlikely they’ll field their strongest team during the group stages; instead, they’ll likely rotate the squad and do just enough to squeak through.
Regardless of how seriously the management team take this challenge, there’s no doubt Chelsea should have enough to claim the win. Those who hold the purse strings agree. The away team has been chalked up as a hot favourite, but there’s more value there than you would expect, Betfred giving the top offer of 10/11. That looks value.
Blues in Good Shape
Maurizio Sarri’s side held their position at the summit with a 4-1 win over Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge last time. The Bluebirds took a shock lead, Bamba scoring against the run of play on 16 minutes but the eventual victors kept their cool; a sublime hat-trick from Hazard added to by a Willian finish. It was a convincing performance and they were fully deserved winners of the points.
A tougher test is predicted in this one, but backers with real confidence in the away win can back Chelsea -1 on the handicap at 12/5, a price you’ll find when betting at Coral. PAOK have been written off as 16/5 outsiders for a win at Coral; for the draw, they offer odds of 11/4.
Some special bets worth a quick mention are Chelsea Half-Time/Full-Time 21/10, Hazard score first 9/2, both teams score and Chelsea win 29/10 and to win to nil can be backed at 11/5 with most major firms.