It might be known as the Champions League’s unruly little brother, but there is still plenty for punters to enjoy in the Europa League: not least a full set of fixtures to get our teeth into. So let’s take a look at some of the best value bets that have caught our eye this week.
Liverpool vs Rubin Kazan
Both Teams to Score – No (4/6)
Many anticipated that Jurgen Klopp would make an instant impact on Liverpool thanks to his charismatic and magnetic presence, and in his own unique way he did: helping his side keep their first clean sheet since August against a previously rampant Spurs side.
That defensive platform should see them home against Rubin Kazan, who are hardly known as net busters themselves. In fact, they have scored just 12 goals in 14 matches this season, and their joint top goalscorer – with two goals – is 34-year-old centre half Oleg Kuzmin.
Even if Klopp rests some of his bigger names for this clash, it would still take something completely out of blue for the Russian side to trouble the scoreboard.
FK Qabala vs Borussia Dortmund
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Score First (8/5)
There have been no signs to suggest that Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel is going to be taking this competition lightly – he played a full-strength team against Krasnodar in their Europa League opener, and only rested a handful of players against PAOK last time out because his side faced a crunch clash with Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga just three days later.
This Sunday Dortmund face Augsburg at home in the Bundesliga, so we assume that Tuchel will call on his big players to put in a shift against Qabala. And that will include Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has notched a whopping ten goals in nine games this season leading the line in place of the departed Ciro Immobile.
As a result, you’d expect the Gabon hitman to get on the scoresheet here, and the price of 8/5 looks good value for a player who is on fire at the moment.
Fenerbahce vs Ajax
Both Teams To Score – Yes (4/6)
The Turkish giants average 2.5 goals in their last five matches in all competitions, and with the likes of Robin Van Persie, Nani, Fernandao and Diego all putting in Europa League appearances already this season, they won’t be short of firepower come Thursday.
Neither will Ajax mind you: they’ve scored in all of their last four away matches in all competitions, and 24 in 12 matches in total this season. Expect goals here too.
Villarreal vs Dinamo Minsk
Under 3.5 Goals (8/13)
Despite their strong start to the campaign, things have started to go a little pear-shaped for Villarreal recently: they’ve lost their last two La Liga matches, plus their Europa League opener to Rapid Vienna. On top of that, they’ve scored just four goals in their last five games.
Dinamo Minsk are no great shakes themselves of course, but having conceded just three goals in their two Europa League defeats thus far – and a paltry 12 in 23 league fixtures – it is clear that they are a well-organised side.
You’d expect Villarreal to win the match, of course, but the margin of victory might be tighter than many expect.