Yes we know it’s only July, but, typically, the Europa League and Champions League continues this week with a host of fixtures, but instead of rifling through every one of them, we’ve opted to take a look at five of the most notable clashes across Wednesday and Thursday evening this week.
One familiar Dynamo Kiev face to those in England is striker Dieumerci Mbokani, a summer signing who last term featured for Hull City following a season on loan at Norwich City a couple of seasons back.
Aside from that, Kiev have won both their league games so far and are dominant on home soil for the last couple of years, so it will be a big task for their Swiss opponents to win.
However, Young Boys themselves have been impressive recently, and turned over defending Swiss champions Basel in Bern earlier this month. They also had a decent pre-season, drawing 2-2 against Stoke City and smashing Benfica 5-1, too.
We’d tip a narrow 2-1 Dynamo Kiev win at 6/1.
This is arguably tie of the evening on Wednesday. Nice surprised everyone in Ligue 1 last term, battling it out with Monaco and Paris SG at the top of the division, whilst Ajax, although they didn’t achieve the title in Holland, did finish runners up in the Europa League.
Nice come into this one armed with Mario Balotelli, who finally seems to have found a home in the south of France, whilst at the other end, the highly rated Kaspar Dolberg will be hoping to fire the Dutch side through to the next round.
Balotelli isn’t the only star in the Nice side, however. They’ve an abundance of relatively young talent such as midfield trio Vincent Koziello, Wylan Cyprien and Remi Walter. Striker Alassane Plea is another to watch out for.
We’d tip a pretty comfortable 2-0 win for the French side at 17/2.
You may remember that it was around this time last year that Brendan Rodgers and Celtic suffered a humiliating defeat to Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar, but surely Rosenborg can’t turn them over on home soil, even with Lord Bendtner in the squad.
In fact it says something about Rosenborg’s quality that ex-Arsenal and Juventus man (somehow) Bendtner is the only notable name, meaning Celtic should have no problems in overcoming the Norwegian outfit.
Despite that, if we remember correctly, weren’t many saying similar things when Rangers took on Progres earlier this month?...
Our tip is for Celtic to win by more than two at 14/5.
Now listen here, straight off the bat, we’re not going to claim to know everything about CS Universutata Craiova or any real sort of Romanian football since the great Gheorge Hagi retired from the game so we’ll cut to the chase and look at the new look AC Milan.
It’s been a great summer for the Italian giants, who look like they could well be on their way back to the glory days of yester-year. Their business has been extremely impressive right across the team, with Andre Silva improving the frontline, the coup of Leonardo Bonucci showed the world that the Italians mean business this coming season. Ricardo Rodriguez will slot straight in at left back
Midfield has also been bolstered thanks to the signings of Franck Kessie, Lucas Biglia and Hakan Calhanoglu and we expect this one to result in a dominant Milan performance and victory.
Our tip is a 0-4 Milan win at 11/1.
The return of Rooney at Goodison should make it a memorable night for not only the England captain, but for those Blues fans who will be out to welcome home their most successful son. Rooney will be hoping to get off the mark for this first competitive fixture to ease any potential pressure on getting goals for the Toffees and at home, against this opposition, it’s a great opportunity for him.
Rooney scored an impressive hat-trick on his European debut for Manchester United all those years ago and will be hoping to replicate that this week – would you really put it past him? A host of other players are set to make their competitive bow, including Davey Klassen and Michael Keane, but this clash may well come too soon for fellow new boys Jordan Pickford and Sandro, who were both in action at the U21s Euros in the summer.
Rooney to score first and Everton to win? It could well work out that way.
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