Win is essential to Birmingham’s Europa League progress

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Birmingham head into their final group game of the Europa League three points behind both leaders Club Brugge and second-placed Braga.

The Blues face Group H whipping boys Maribor, who have registered just one point in the competition, knowing that only victory will do if they are to advance to the knockout stages.

Chris Hughton’s men are 1/2 to record the win that they need, evens to score 2-3 goals in the game, and a big 9/2 to hit four or more past the Slovenian strugglers.

Birmingham are praying that Braga can achieve a positive result away to Club Brugge, as they have a superior head-to-head record against the Belgian side, but lost their two ties against last year’s finalists.

It is 13/5 that the sides draw the match, with visitors Maribor 9/2 to claim a first victory of a miserable European campaign.

The Slovenian outfit are 11/8 to triumph receiving a one goal head start, but it could be wiser to back the home side to win at the same price giving up a goal from the off.

Knowing the task in hand, Birmingham look very big at 4/1 to overcome a one goal handicap by half-time, which would give them real belief that qualification is a possibility.

Similarly, the Championship outfit look good at 3/1 to overcome the same handicap in the second half, again bearing in mind that they require success to give them even a remote chance of advancement.

5/4 is available on Birmingham to be leading at half-time and full-time at St. Andrew’s, whilst it is a very tempting 9/4 that the home team wins both halves, and an unmissable 6/4 that they score either side of half-time.

Hughton is likely to field as strong a side as possible to give his team every chance of going through, and Serbian international Nikola Zigic is a big 5/1 to score first.

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