It is not just the Champions League that sees action this week, as on Thursday night the teams competing in the Europa League Group Stages will be in action once again, with half the games kicking off at 5.55pm and the remaining matches played at 8pm (both UK times).
Teams from the UK and Ireland that are battling it out in this competition include Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers, Leicester, Arsenal and Tottenham from the Premier League, plus the Irish side Dundalk embarking on their first ever Europa League Group Stage campaign.
It is fair to say that the teams listed above have had a real mix of starts to the group stage with Celtic and Dundalk struggling at the bottom of their tables, while the other four teams all currently top their group with Arsenal and Leicester both boasting 100% perfect winning records from their trio of matches thus far.
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Speaking of which, lets now take a look at some of the big games coming up in the Europa League on Thursday night and some of the bets we’ll be backing in each of those games.
Europa League Big Games – Matchday 4
Braga v Leicester City – 5.55pm – Group G
Leicester thumped Braga 4-0 at the King Power in what was something of a surprise result to me as Braga are a much better team than that result suggests. This was proven when in the days after this loss, they went to Benfica in the Portuguese league and recorded a 3-2 victory. On home soil, and burning with revenge for that defeat, I think Braga will be a much tougher opponent. Leicester meanwhile need to bounce back after losing 3-0 to Liverpool at the weekend and with Braga’s record against British teams being generally good, this is a tough ask for them. I can see goals at both ends here but I think that the draw is the most likely result and my top tips for this game are outlined below.
Full Time Result – Draw – 11/4
Correct Score – Braga 1-1 Leicester City – 6/1
Anytime Goalscorer – Jamie Vardy – 4/5
Molde v Arsenal – 5.55pm – Group B
Arsenal lead the way in Group B with maximum points from their three games and a goal difference of eight better than the next best team. Molde are second but in truth, Arsenal are by far and away the strongest team in this group and it would be a huge shock if the Gunners did not win all six of their games in the Group Stages. This is probably the toughest game the Gunners have remaining, and a win here will qualify them for the next phase of the tournament barring a complete collapse of epic proportions and I think they will comfortably take the win here.
Full Time Result – Arsenal to win – 7/10
Correct Score – Molde 0-2 Arsenal – 9/1
Anytime Goalscorer – Eddie Nketiah – 6/5
Sparta Prague v Celtic – 5.55pm – Group H
Group H always looked a tough one for Celtic and so it has proved. Just one point from their three games leaves them bottom of the group and they lost 4-1 at home to the opponents they face tonight just a couple of weeks back. Sparta’s win in Glasgow was their first points earned in the group and both teams trail Milan and Lille in what is one of the toughest of all the Europa League groups. Celtic’s recent form isn’t great either and as such, it is hard seeing them reversing the result of a couple of weeks back in this one.
Full Time Result – Sparta Prague to win – 6/4
Correct Score – Sparta Prague 2-1 Celtic – 9/1
Anytime Goalscorer – Libor Kozak – 7/4
Rangers v Benfica – 8.00pm – Group D
Rangers have made a very promising start in Group D and sit top of the group with seven points having earned a draw in Portugal last time out against tonight’s opposition. Benfica also have seven points in the group and it does look very much like both these teams will qualify for the knockout phase. Rangers were the better team when the teams met in Lisbon and I think that back in Scotland, they should be confident of picking up a win here which would cement their top spot in the group.
Full Time Result – Rangers to win – 11/10
Correct Score – Rangers 2-1 Benfica – 8/1
Anytime Goalscorer – James Tavernier – 2/1
Tottenham v Ludogorets Razgrad – 8.00pm – Group J
After beating Manchester City at the weekend, Tottenham I feel may well rest a number of key first team players for this game against the team in Group J that has no points. All other teams have six points so far, so this really is a must-win game for Spurs. However, their squad depth is now excellent and even if the likes of Kane and Son are rested, Gareth Bale and other quality players can step in. As such, I think this will be a confident home win for Spurs and I would not be surprised to see the Welsh superstar net a goal here for the home side.
Full Time Result – Tottenham win – 1/10
Correct Score – Tottenham 3-0 Ludogorets Razgrad – 11/2
Anytime Goalscorer – Gareth Bale – 8/11