The Europa League is finally starting to hot up as we head into the second legs of four finely poised clashes in the competition, which includes Manchester United, who see winning the tournament as their best chance of playing Champions League football at Old Trafford again. Jose Mourinho will be taking it seriously, and there's no doubt the rest of the sides will be too. It won't be easy for Jose and his troops...
A couple of late goals in the first leg in France saw Lyon go from 0-1 down to 2-1 up in the first leg and we reckon they’ll have enough about them to get the job done. Besiktas do have the away goal though, which will give them hope of an upset, which will certainly be helped by their vociferous home support over in Turkey. Both teams have scored in 12 of Lyon’s last 14 games in all competitions, which suggests the door will be left ajar for the Turkish outfit on Thursday evening, especially when you consider Besiktas haven’t yet lost in European competition since they moved into their new stadium – they’ve also never kept a clean sheet there, either. BTTS and Over 2.5 Goals would be our selection, at 8/15.
Still with their eyes on the Eredivisie prize, it’s handy that Ajax bring a slender advantage into this one with two Davy Klassen strikes proving the difference in Amsterdam in the first leg. They’ll believe that an early goal in Germany should be enough to take them through – after all, Schalke would then need four goals on the night. There have been three defeats in their last four games for the hosts and that lack of confidence, and potential lack of belief could mean more disappointment against Ajax on Thursday evening. A 2-1 Schalke win won’t be enough for the Germans to qualify, but will potentially be enough for you to be in the money at a 3/1 shot.
The first leg was a goal-fest, with Celta Vigo winning by the odd goal in five, however, with the two away goals and a home leg this time around, Genk will fancy their chances of progressing to the semi-finals, but they’ll need to score on Thursday evening. But if the Belgians are to progress, they’ll probably have to keep a clean sheet and stop ex-Liverpool man Iago Aspas, who is fourth in the current La Liga top goalscorers list – behind Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo and one ahead of Antoine Griezmann, so he’s in decent company! We think this one will be more conservative which is why we’re going for a 1-1 scoreline at 11/2.
Despite dominating in the first leg in Belgium, Manchester United were left ruing missed chances, but with the away goal, you’ll still feel United will have enough about them to get the job done and find a way through to the semi-finals stage of the competition as they bid to wangle their way into the Champions League next season through the Europa League back door.
Anderlecht will surely have to be better than they were in the first leg if they are to upset the party at Old Trafford. United could well ring the changes from the team who beat Chelsea at the weekend. Jose Mourinho may well throw the big guns back in for this one, after the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan both on the bench for the game against his former side at the weekend. Expect United to turn the Belgians over in convincing fashion, with our tip of a 3-0 home win coming in at 6/1.
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