While it may not get the same sort of billing as its illustrious cousin, the Europa League does contain some of the biggest names in European football history. The likes of Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur will all be in action on Thursday evening, which should make for some thrilling viewing.
We’ve compiled a short list of our pick of the round's action and we’ve hopefully found a winner or two.
Thursday 5 October
Ajax Amsterdam 12/10
With both teams so evenly matched this could well end up being the game of the round. Ajax currently occupy third spot in group A while their opponents for Thursday night sit in second position; two points above the Dutch side. Both teams have shown a penchant to concede goals at the most inopportune times, which has led to crucial points being dropped. The hosts have shipped four goals in their three games played thus far, whilst the visitors have been even more porous; letting in seven goals. While both sets of defenders have struggled to keep it tight at the back, both teams' strikers haven’t had any trouble finding the back of the net. Ajax have scored three goals in their three matches while the Turkish outfit have managed to net four goals. With that in mind, I’d recommend taking Both Teams To Score-Yes – at 17/20.
Rubin Kazan 59/20
Christian Benteke will return to the Liverpool starting lineup full of confidence after coming off the bench and scoring in his side's 3-1 victory over Chelsea in the Premier League. The Belgian striker has endured an injury-ravaged debut campaign for the Reds thus far but is now fit and raring to go. Jurgen Klopp is expecting big things from the former Aston Villa hitman, who will get a chance to repay the faith that his new manager has shown in him on Thursday evening. I wouldn’t be surprised if the burly Belgian swings the game in the Reds' favour. Kazan are a solitary point off Liverpool in Group B and will be desperate to get something out of this fixture. Like Liverpool, the Russian giants have been a bit porous defensively. They have conceded three goals in their opening three fixtures and will need their back four to show some improvement if they are to keep the Liverpudlians exciting attack at bay. Liverpool have drawn all their Europa league fixtures thus far but I think that is set to change on Thursday evening. Back the Reds to get the business done in Russia at 19/20.
Borussia Dortmund 3/50
The German giants are yet to lose a game in the Europa league thus far. They sit at the top of group C on seven points, three points ahead of second-placed Krasnodar. A win on Thursday evening will all but secure Dortmund’s qualification to the knockout phase of the competition. Gabala will travel to the Westfalenstadion looking to avoid a massacre, this is unlikely, however, as their hosts have been in fine goal scoring form- netting six goals in their three fixtures. While it's definitely not a banker, I’m going to tip the Total Goals Market at over 5.5 goals.
Tottenham Hotspur 3/4
Tottenham play host to Anderlecht on Thursday evening in a game the hosts, simply must win. While they’ve been on an impressive ten-game unbeaten run domestically, Pochientino’s side is yet to produce on the European stage. Spurs will be in danger of dropping out of the competition at the group stage if they lose to the Belgians on Thursday. The visitors will come into this game full of confidence as they beat Spurs in the last round of the competition. The 2-1 victory saw them draw level on points with the London club on the group J log. This game may come down to a battle of the strikers, which is good news, as we’re likely to see a few screamers being scored. Spurs will rely on Harry Kane to produce the goods while Anderlecht will be looking to their duel strike force of Matias Suarez and Imoh Ezekiel to swing the game in their favour. It is a bit of a risk, but I’m backing Anderlecht to leave White Hart Lane with all three points. Back the away team at 15/4.
Sparta Prague 5/4
Schalke 04 21/10
Thursday evening will see a clash between Sparta Prague and Schalke 04. The Germans currently occupy top spot in the group K standings, however, Sparta are only two points behind them and a victory for the Czech side would send them to the top of the table. This feat won’t be easy to accomplish, however, as Schalke have been in fine form this season. The Royal Blues are yet to lose a game in the competition and have been banging in goals for fun. They’ve scored nine goals in three games, which equates to a staggeringly good average of three per game. With Schalke in fine fettle, my money is on them claiming all three points on Thursday. Back the away team at 21/10.
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