Celtic v Valencia
The first of our Feb 14 Europa League betting tips is for Celtic v Valencia. Scottish champions Celtic surprised a few by getting through a tough Europa League group and their reward was a stern test over two legs against Spanish giants Valencia. The first match takes place in Glasgow and The Hoops know it’s a game they must win, probably without conceding, if they are to have any chance of involvement in the next round. No mean feat against an opponent of Valencia’s class; however, Parkhead on a European night brings a special atmosphere and the fans who will pack themselves tightly into the Glasgow stadium can do their bit for the club they love.
The home side finished their group campaign with an even split of three wins against three defeats; however, they won two of their last three to sneak through behind Red Bull Salzburg, two points ahead of RB Leipzig. Brendan Rodgers’ crew continue to dominate domestically and despite losing to bitter rivals Rangers over the festive period, they sit six clear of The Gers and are well on their way to claiming another title. Bookmakers have the home win marked up at 13/5 (Bet365) and that’s outsider of three in the match betting, a draw available at 12/5 with the same firm. Both eye-catching prices but neither are good enough to tempt us into a play as we expect the Spaniards to flex their muscles.
Valencia the Value Bet
Valencia join us from the Champions League after dropping down a grade when finishing third in Group H. Two wins, two draws and a couple of defeats left them on eight points, behind leaders Juventus on 12 and the 10 of Manchester United. It wasn’t a pool they were expected to get through; however, followers will take heart from the consolation of Europa League football, ending four better than Young Boys in fourth. Involvement in Europe’s premier competition proves their class and they certainly didn’t shame themselves in what was a competitive division.
In La Liga the visitors are holding their own in seventh after 21 games and sit within touching distance of the prize places with a top-six spot just two points away while Sevilla and the top-four is seven better at the time of writing. Regaining a Champions League spot will be tough, but there’s plenty of football still to be played and it would come as no surprise to see them battle their way back into the top-four. Traders are keen to support Valencia in this match and offer 11/10 (Unibet) on them snatching a first leg lead. That’s good enough for us and it’s a bet that will do a job in your midweek accumulators.
Lazio v Sevilla
This season’s Europa League is shaping up to be a fascinating encounter and this is another match which proves it with two respected teams from Europe facing off. We are beginning to see managers take the tournament more seriously than they have in the past, perhaps following Manchester United’s example and viewing winning it as the easiest route into the Champions League next season. Lazio are eighth in Serie A with a record of 9-5-7 after 21 games, just three points between themselves and the top-four. That may lead to them viewing this competition as a bit of a distraction; however, we’ll see if that’s true from their squad selection.
The Italians finished second in Group H, their record reading three wins against three defeats and that left them nine points behind runaway leaders Eintracht Frankfurt who ended with a 100% record, leaving the chasing pack to fight it out amongst themselves. Lazio lost each of their last two at this level, allowing Limassol to close the gap; however, those points were dropped after qualification was already secured, so we won’t read too much into it. The home win is 7/5 favourite with Bet365, but we’d much prefer the draw at 23/10 with the same firm, better than the 21/10 you’ll get with most other bookmakers.
Reason to be Confident
Sevilla travel to Italy for this first round tie with reason to be confident; however, they’ll be well briefed on the size of the challenge that awaits them and will know they’ll have to be at their best if they are to get through to the next stage. They finished top of Group J with a record reading four wins and two defeats, the dozen points on the board leaving them level with Krasnodar, going through as winners thanks to 12 more goals. They beat their main rivals in the final game to claim pole position and that was an impressive effort.
Sevilla hold a top-four spot in La Liga after 21 games; however, their winter form has been patchy, to put it politely, drawing two, losing two then winning one of their last five starts at the time of writing. That has opened the back door to their challengers and Alaves are only four behind and threatening to gate crash the party. Sevilla line-up as second favourites to claim the first leg win and backers can get their hands on a useful 19/10 at Unibet if deciding to have a pop.
Malmo v Chelsea
The last of our Feb 14 Europa League betting tips is for Malmo v Chelsea. Malmo have a massive test on their hands this week when preparing to welcome English Premier League side Chelsea to town. They know the dangers The Blues will bring, but can take encouragement from the fact their opponents are involved in a fight for a top-four finish domestically and may see this as yet another fixture on an already hectic schedule and a competition they could probably do without. If that is the case, Malmo are good enough to take advantage.
This means more to the locals who have lost only one Europa League tie so far, their group campaign returning stats of two, three, one. The spare came in their first match and they had no trouble bouncing back, their last five reading win-draw-draw-draw-win, leaving them two points behind Group I winners Genk and two ahead of Besiktas in third. Will they record a famous win over the mighty Chelsea? Bookies really don’t think so and are confident enough to offer the locals at 9/1 (Bet365). We’re going to take a chance on another Malmo draw at 9/2 – top price with Unibet.
Bigger Fish to Fry
After 24 Premier League matches, Chelsea sit fifth in the table, level on points with Arsenal and the top-four; however, improvement is needed if they are to gain Champions League football as they have lost five games so far with two of those defeats coming in their last two. The Blues went down to Arsenal at the Emirates before suffering an embarrassing 4-0 hammering away to Bournemouth. The Cherries ran riot in midweek, King grabbing a double, with Brooks and Daniels helping themselves to one each. It was a shock result, but no one could deny Bournemouth fully deserved the points.
The beaten side finished that match with more of the ball and seven shots on target but were wasteful in the final-third and that came back to haunt them. Manager Maurizio Sarri told members of the media at full-time a change of mentality is needed from his players as they looked weak after conceding. Reading between the lines, that was a challenge to step up and deliver for the club and its fans. Bookies have the away win as favourite here, Coral’s 3/10 the average price in the betting ring and that’ll pop up in a fair share of accumulators.