Mark O’Haire’s Europa League Tips – Thursday
It’s fair to say the Europa League isn’t at the top of Liverpool’s priorities this season.
Rubin Kazan v Liverpool, Thursday 5th November 2015, 18.00, BT Sport Europe
The 4,000-mile round trip immediately prior to Sunday’s home clash with Crystal Palace is far from ideal preparation for their Premier League duties.
But Jurgen Klopp’s taken his strongest possible squad to Russia, with Philippe Coutinho, Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino all making the journey. The big guns are unlikely to feature from the off mind, as the Reds look to end a run of three consecutive 1-1 Europa League draws.
Confidence is certainly sky high following the 3-1 weekend win at Chelsea. That result extended Liverpool’s unbeaten streak to 11 (albeit eight were stalemates) and the men from Merseyside will know maximum points in Tatarstan would give the visitors a great chance of progression from Group B.
However, the Reds have proven fairly underwhelming on their European travels in recent years and it’s almost three years since they won away in continental action. Liverpool have lost five of their previous eight European road trips, scoring just four goals, and produced their worst performance under Klopp in the reverse fixture at Anfield.
Despite playing with a man advantage thanks to Rubin skipper Oleg Kuzmin’s sending off, Liverpool struggled to breakdown the dogged Russians a fortnight ago. Rubin might be struggling domestically but Chelsea, Spurs and Wigan have all lost in Kazan in recent years.
Valeriy Chaly’s side have picked up just three wins in nine at their brand spanking new Kazan Arena, built for the 2018 World Cup, this term. The hosts are only out of the Russian Premier League relegation zone on goal difference and bottom of the Europa League pool with only two points.
As well as right-back Kuzmin’s suspension, forward Igor Portnyagin is out injured. But even so, just four defeats in 33 home European games suggests the hosts are a tough nut to crack in front of their home fans and 10/11 quotes on Rubin to avoid defeat in the Double Chance market just look too big when viewing the two teams’ respective home/away continental trends.
It may also be worth having a small play on the 1-1 draw at 11/2. Rubin’s last six home Europa fixtures have featured fewer than three goals with the Russians failing to net more than a solitary goal on each occasion.
Meanwhile, just two of their previous 13 outings in this competition broke the Over 2.5 Goals line.
As for Liverpool, their 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge represented only the second time the Reds have scored more than once in 16 competitive matches this term.
Rubin Kazan Double Chance @ 10/11
Correct Score 1-1 @ 11/2
Celtic v Molde, Thursday 5th November 2015, 18.00, BT Sport 2
Back-to-back victories against their two closest challengers in the Scottish Premier League has sent Celtic seven points clear at the top of the domestic table but The Bhoys may well be on verge of elimination from Europe on Thursday night.
Sitting rock bottom of Group A, the Scottish champions welcome pool leaders Molde to Glasgow looking to avenge their 3-1 defeat in Norway just a fortnight ago. Ronny Deila’s men were convincingly beaten, extending their winless streak in European competition to eight.
With Celtic exiting the Champions League before the group-stage in each of Deila’s previous campaigns, the Norwegian boss will know a positive result is necessary if he’s to ease the pressure surrounding his position at Parkhead.
The Bhoys have bagged 16 wins from their last 18 matches at Celtic Park, 14 of which were achieved by a margin of two goals or more. But the Glaswegians look poor value 4/7 favourites for Thursday night’s tussle.
Molde may finish the Tippeligaen season well off the pace but the visitors have won eight of their last 11 matches. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have pocketed five successive victories in all competitions, notching 16 goals in the process. In Europe, the Norwegians have lost just twice in nine this term, even beating Fenerbahce away.
Backing Molde or the Draw at 7/5 in the Double Chance market just looks far too big for one of the Europa League’s big surprise packages and there’s also merit in taking the 3/4 on Both Teams To Score with BoyleSports.
With Celtic having to chase the win, the fixture could be played in an open, attacking manner. The Scots have suffered defensively in Europe during Deila’s reign, leaking 22 goals in 11 Europa League ties. And eight of those games featured Over 2.5 Goals including six of their last seven.
Indeed four of Celtic’s last six home games in Europe have had at least four goals and Molde have followed suit in both of their Europa League road trips this term. The travellers have conceded in all bar one of their last 14 away but have managed to score themselves in eight of their nine European fixtures.
The trends suggest a goal-heavy game could be coming our way.
Molde Double Chance @ 7/5
Both Teams To Score @ 3/4
Tottenham v Anderlecht, Thursday 5th November 2015, 20.05, BT Sport Europe
You have to feel for Tottenham a little. Barely 72 hours after being in Premier League action, Spurs must face Anderlecht in the Europa League before a crucial North London derby on Sunday. Mauricio Pochettino was understandably upset with the scheduling and is likely to rotate his weary squad on Thursday.
Still, the Londoners are in good spirits. The hosts are flying high in fifth in the Premier League table, avoiding defeat in 10. Spurs’ four-point haul from three Group J games in the Europa League has left Pochettino’s charges in third but victory over the Belgians this midweek could send the side back to the summit.
Tottenham have W4-D2-L0 in their last six White Hart Lane matches in Europe but that record extends further.
Since 2012/13, Spurs have W13-D4-L1 of their continental contests in London with 10 wins by at least a two-goal margin.
No wonder the hosts have been chalked up as 8/11 shots.
The visitors came from behind to beat the Lilywhites in Brussels two weeks ago and whilst Besnik Hasi’s men are winless in 12 away European ties (W0-D6-L6), they did hold both Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund to draws on the road in last season’s Champions League and shouldn’t be underrated.
Anderlecht are sitting second in their domestic table and lost just twice in 17 across all competitions (W9-D6-L2). However, injuries are likely to rob Hasi of influential defender Ivan Obradovic and creative fulcrum Dennis Praet. Throw in their modest W3-D2-L2 road record in all competitions this term and a repeat of their 2-1 success a fortnight ago looks unlikely.
Les Mauves et Blanc do have a penchant for goals, mind. The travellers have failed to score just once in 18 away matches. With Spurs keeping a solitary shutout in 10 European fixtures, the Both Teams To Score angle comes to the fore. But I’ll back Spurs to win and BTTS banking at 11/4 – five of Tottenham’s last seven home wins in the Europa League have come despite conceding whilst six of Anderlecht’s last seven away defeats also included the losers grabbing a goal.
And there’s no harm in supporting Over 2.5 Goals at a rather large 10/11. It’s proven profitable in six of Tottenham’s last eight as well as 14 of their previous 17 White Hart Lane dates with continental competition – eight of those encounters even featured four goals or more.
Over 2.5 Goals @ 10/11
Tottenham To Win and Both Teams To Score @ 11/4
*Prices correct at time of publication