We preview Thursday night's Europa League quarter-finals, including the Anderlecht v Manchester United game.The European milieu once again gets underway this week, with the heavy hitters duking it out earlier in the week, leaving Thursday night open for clubs right on the cusp of European breakthroughs. It’s rather an interesting cross section of clubs, with many more surprises in the Round of 16 stage than were present in the Champions League draw. The likes of Zenit, Villarreal, Monchengladbach, Roma and Fiorentina have already fallen by the wayside, with Gent the real surprise package thus far.
United are clearly the biggest club remaining, and considering their European pedigree they should be the clear favourites. Having said all that, Lyon have played some tremendous football in the last few rounds while Schalke perhaps are the dark horses following their elimination of Borussia Monchengladbach.
Anderlecht 28/10 | Draw 24/10 | Manchester United 19/20
Mourinho’s side travel to Belgium knowing that their Champions League qualification hopes likely hinge on winning this competition. Rene Weiler’s side have been on an impressive unbeaten home run and will look to suffocate the Red Devils. They will be without the influential, cup-tied Adrien Trebel, but will know that Mourinho will likely set up his side in a fairly pragmatic way. In many ways, both clubs will likely be searching for a similar result. A 0-0 draw will suit the home side, knowing an away goal would then set them up perfectly. Alternatively, United will be confident that they can dispatch Anderlecht at home.
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Verdict: Totals - Under 2.5 Goals - 8/11
Neither side is too proficient in front of goal, so I expect an exceptionally cagey affair.
Celta Vigo 11/20 | Draw 3/1 | Gent 47/10
Celta Vigo’s relatively poor domestic season - currently sitting 10th in La Liga - shouldn’t take anything away from what has been an excellent European campaign. They finished second place in their group behind Ajax, beating out liege and Panathinaikos. They then went on to pull off a huge upset by ousting Shakhtar Donetsk. They lost to Eibar 2-0 at the weekend, but clearly had one eye on this fixture. Gent are having a remarkable European campaign and prepared with a 1-0 victory over Roeselare. They have scored an incredible 18 away goals in 7 games in the Europa league. This combined with the fact that Celta Vigo have only kept one clean sheet in the Europa League leads me to believe this is going to be an open encounter.
Verdict: Matchbet + Both Teams to Score Celta Vigo + Yes 9/4
This price seems amazing considering the away scoring form of Gent. Celta Vigo should prevail with their superior side but expect goals in this one.
Lyon 6/10 | Draw 32/10 | Besiktas 4/1
This game is far more interesting now in the wake of several poor results for the French outfit. Lyon’s 4-1 home loss to Lorient will have obviously affected their confidence somewhat. They did also lose their Round of 16 home leg 2-1 to Roma. More broadly speaking, however, Lyon have been sensational at home in the last several months. They have won 9 out of 11 home games, scoring an astonishing 40 goals in that time. Lacazette is one of the hottest strikers in Europe and is a good bet for the anytime goal-scoring categories. Besiktas currently sit atop the Turkish league and are unbeaten in all competitions in 11 games.
Verdict: Lyon 6/10
Lyon’s price would have been shorter if not for that embarrassing home defeat in Ligue 1. Besiktas will be without suspended striker Vincent Aboubakar and will likely get shown up for class this week.
Ajax 29/20 | Draw 22/10 | Schalke 04
Dutch giants Ajax managed to sneak into the Europa League quarter-finals with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Copenhagen. They beat NEC 5-1 away from home at the weekend and have won five of their last six matches in all competitions. They only sit one point adrift of Feyenoord atop the Eredivisie and look set for a terrific end to the season. They have won their last 9 matches in all competitions, scoring 26 goals in the process. Star striker Kasper Dolberg is out with a groin injury while Lasse Schone is suspended. Schalke’s domestic season is going less well. They beat Wolfsburg 4-1 on Saturday, but they have only won three of their last 13 matches in all competitions. They did, however, surprise me in their tenacity in beating Monchengladbach in the Round of 16. Burgstaller is in decent scoring form while the likes of Howedes and Badstuber give them personality at the back.
Verdict: Ajax 7/5
Ajax are currently in tremendous home form and will look to take advantage of a Schalke side with difficulties on the road.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.