Our football scribe previews Thursday night's Europa League second Leg quarter-final ties.The second legs of the Europa League Quarter-Finals come hot off the heels of some outstanding results in the granddaddy competition: The Champions League. We can only hope that some of the majesty of that tournament will be imbued on this week’s fixtures. All of the matches still have something in it, with perhaps Schalke 04 sitting with the most to do. Current favourites Manchester United were given a rollicking by their manager last week after they conceded a very late equaliser to a spirited Anderlecht side. They have picked up a win over Chelsea - throwing the Premier League title race wide open - and will feel confident of making yet another European semi-final. Lyon and Besiktas had to contend with crowd violence last week in what has been an unsavoury period for European football. Ajax - that other bastion of European football still remaining, will feel the most confident of progressing following a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Schalke.
Besiktas 17/10 | Draw 26/10 | Lyon 27/20
Demba Ba is clearly out for the long term here while Quaresma is out with a calf injury. Marcelo and Vincent Aboubakar are suspended for the home side. Besiktas’ loss in France last week was their first in eleven games and they take an impressive home record into this game. They host a Lyon side that has been on the receiving end of crowd disruptions in their last two matches. Lyon have only won two of their last six matches and Depay is cup-tied for this match. Rafael is suspended while Maciej Rybus is their only injury concern. The free-flowing Lacazette may have a harder time adjusting to his rhythm in what is sure to be a harsh atmosphere.
Verdict: Both Teams to Score - Yes - 4/10
I still feel deep down that Lyon will get through, but I’m certain that neither one of these sides will keep a clean sheet.
Manchester United 2/9 | Draw 5/1 | Anderlecht 11/1
United will be feeling a million dollars after Mourinho exorcised some personal demons with victory over Chelsea. Anderlecht’s equaliser through Leander Dendoncker really misrepresented the first leg. They will have Lukasz Teodorczyk back this week, who alongside Frank Acheampong and Nicolae Stanciu should provide some potency on the counter-attack. But it’s in the wide areas that I fear for Anderlecht. Old Trafford is a bigger field than last week and I think Appiah and co will have their hands full with the natural width provided by both Antonio Valencia and Marcus Rashford, not to mention Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
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Verdict: United 2/9
This may look extremely short, but I just don’t see the risk of getting too cheeky with a result that I think is fairly obvious. United were dominant in the first half and will be even more confident after that Chelsea result.
Genk 31/20 | Draw 5/2 | Celta Vigo 31/20
Genk are unbeaten at home in the Europa League, winning seven straight games before drawing 1-1 with fellow countrymen Gent in the last round. It is that type of form that will give the Belgian side confidence that their two away goals may give them the slight edge going into this encounter. Celta Vigo have won four straight Europa League games and know that Genk have an appalling record against Spain in Europe. Genk - at home - have only won once in nine European ties against Spanish opposition. Genk will be without striker Nikos Karelis and midfielder Tino-Sven Susic, while goalkeeper Bizot remains a doubt.
Verdict: Matchbet + Both Teams to Score - Genk + Yes at 23/10
Both of these sides showed their intentions last week and I would expect the same expansive game this week. Ultimately, however, Genk’s superior home form seems to indicate that they may just edge out the Spanish side in a free-scoring encounter.
Schalke 04 1/1 | Draw 49/20 | Ajax 51/20
Ajax have won five and have drawn one of their last six competitive matches. Schalke have lost four of their last six. There is clearly a gulf in the form books here. Schalke have only kept three clean sheets in their last 13 home games, whilst Ajax have only failed to score in one of their last ten. This all doesn’t bode well for Schalke, especially following a slightly embarrassing league defeat to Darmstadt. Schalke are missing too many important players. Breel Embolo, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Naldo and Baba Rahman are all absent for the home side. Daly Sinkgraven and Jairo Riedewald will miss out in defence for Ajax.
Verdict: Matchbet + Both Teams to Score - Schalke + Yes 19/10
Schalke won’t be able to keep it tight at the back as they go desperately in search of victory. I can easily envisage a 3-2 victory score-line for Schalke here.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.