Mark O’Haire’s Europa League Tips


Tottenham head to Monaco buoyed by their 4-1 thrashing of Manchester City at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

Monaco v Tottenham, Thursday 1st October 2015, 18.00, BT Sport Europe
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is likely to again ring the changes for the Europa League and that makes reading the Londoners a little tricky.

What we do know is, the Lilywhites have lost just one of their last 20 Europa League group stage matches (W13-D6-L1) and won a very impressive six of their last 11 European away games since 2013/14.

Their one reverse during the former sample came at Besiktas in their most recent road trip but even so, the Londoners boast a terrific Europa League record and should fancy their chances of avoiding defeat in the principality.

Monaco’s 2015/16 prospects were turned upside down in the space of a few days towards the end of the transfer window. Anthony Martial’s big-money move to Manchester United robbed Les Monegasques of their hottest striking prospect whilst defensive lynchpin Aymen Abdennour completed a move away to Valencia. With no midfield replacement for Geoffrey Kondogbia sought, Leonardo Jardim’s charges have looked unbalanced and incredibly flimsy.

Last season Les Rouges et Blancs were built around their stable and solid backbone. Monaco kept a hugely impressive 20 clean sheets in domestic league action and playing in Europe for the first time since 2005/06, Thursday’s hosts recorded excellent W4-D2-L1 figures at the Stade Louis II, leaking only three goals – two of which came in a second leg Last 16 tie with Arsenal.

The key deadline day departures have certainly hit Jardim’s troops hard. Monaco have conceded 12 goals in their last six fixtures and find themselves languishing down in ninth. Les Monegasques have kept just two shutouts in 11 this season and I expect Spurs to increase that unwanted return.

Spurs have scored in seven of their nine matches this campaign and should notch against Ligue 1’s worst defence in 2015/16. However, the Lilywhites boast a solitary shutout in seven European road trips and just one clean sheet of their own in eight continental clashes. Both Teams To Score has banked in Monaco’s last four and backing a repeat looks the most logical bet at 20/21.

Recommended Bet:
Both Teams To Score @ 20/21

Celtic v Fenerbahce, Thursday 1st October 2015, 20.05, BT Sport 2
Kudos to Celtic. I didn’t foresee the Bhoys returning from Amsterdam with a point but Ronny Deila’s men earned a valuable 2-2 draw at Ajax in their Group A opener despite playing the final 20 minutes with 10 men. It’s set the Scottish champions up nicely for a tasty showdown with Fenerbahce at Parkhead this week.

The general rule when it comes to Celtic is, back the Bhoys when playing at home and oppose the club when they’re on the road. The pain of their Champions League exit may have slightly subsided by now but the Hoops still trail Aberdeen in the Premiership and a goalless draw with Hearts last time out was nothing to write home about. Still, three clean sheets on the spin since their Amsterdam sojourn deserves credit.

And bringing their Celtic Park form back into focus, the Bhoys have bagged 12 victories in their last 19 when entertaining continental clubs. Their short term return is just as impressive (W5-D1-L1) and this season alone, Celtic have W8-D1-L0 in all competitions on home soil with six clean sheets to their name. Excellent stuff.

Fenerbahce may have won their last six Europa League away ties in succession and avoided defeat in eight of their last 11 European road trips but the Yellow Canaries suffered a shock 3-1 defeat at home to Molde in their curtain-raiser. Vitor Pereira’s charges did fire in 17 efforts on goal but there’s a suggestion that all is not well in the visitors camp ahead of their journey to Scotland.

The visitors lost 3-2 to their fierce rivals Besiktas in the Istanbul derby on Sunday to surrender top spot in the Turkish Super Lig table. Meanwhile, big money summer signing Robin van Persie has reportedly fallen out with Pereira and may start on the bench again on Thursday night.

Despite their notable historical results when playing away on the continent, Fenerbahce’s road record this term reads W2-D1-L2. Coupled with Celtic’s notoriously strong Parkhead record, I loathe to oppose the hosts. There’s mileage in supporting the Bhoys at 5/6 in the Draw No Bet market but instead a punt on a low scoring clash makes most appeal.

Under 2.5 Goals can also be backed at 5/6 and it’s proven a winner in 11 of Celtic’s last 18 European group stage home games since 2008/09 with only two featuring four goals or more.

Fenerbahce have seen the same Under 2.5 Goals bet prove profitable in eight of their last European trips as well as in three of their five away outings in 2015/16.

Recommended Bet:
Under 2.5 Goals @ 5/6

Liverpool v FC Sion, Thursday 1st October 2015, 20.05, BT Sport Europe
How much pressure is Brendan Rodgers under? If the betting is to be believed, only Dick Advocaat is more likely to lose his job in the Premier League. Last weekend’s unconvincing 3-2 beating of Aston Villa has given the Liverpool boss a stay of execution but with a Merseyside derby on the horizon this Sunday, could defeat at Goodison Park lead to his departure? Perhaps.

It might sound strange starting the Liverpool v Sion preview talking about Rodgers’ precarious position but with that Everton meeting just days after this fixture, it does have a big bearing on the Reds’ likely line-up. Already Rodgers has shown a lack of interest in the Europa League when resting a number of players in Bordeaux and Liverpool should again field close to a second string on Thursday night.

Daniel Sturridge, who scored twice in that Villa victory following his comeback from injury, is certain to be left out, but I do believe the Reds will have enough in their armoury to take maximum points. The Merseysiders have W4-D0-L3 in their past three European seasons at Anfield – the sides to take points off them in that run are Real Madrid and two Swiss sides in Basel and Young Boys.

But Sion just aren’t on the same scale as those previous visitors. Having only finished seventh in the Swiss Super League last season, Didier Tholot’s team qualified for Europa League action by winning their domestic cup competition. It’s the first time the club have featured in the group stage of a major UEFA tournament.

Their campaign started brightly with victory over Rubin Kazan on home soil – Senegalese striker Moussa Konate bagged a brace and Carlitos was a tricky customer for the Russian defence – but having been beaten at home by lowly 10-man Vaduz last weekend, the Sion chairman branded his players ‘pathetic’, ‘negative’, ‘awful’ and suggested his squad should be ‘ashamed’ of their performance. Ouch.

As well as that sloppy result, Sion have won just once in five away days and drew blanks at Grasshoppers and Basel – the two better standard sides in that sequence. Liverpool have won 16 of their last 22 home Europa League ties, only losing once at Anfield during that sample, and should have more than enough to comfortably come through. Backing the Reds to beat a -1 handicap at 7/5 seems more than plausible.

Recommended Bet:
Liverpool -1 @ 7/5

*Prices correct at time of publication