Things didn’t quite go to plan for St Johnstone in the first-leg of their Europa League tie against Lithuanian side FK Trakai, with the Perth club losing 2-1 at McDiarmid Park.
But there’s reason to believe the Ladbrokes Premiership outfit can turn around that narrow deficit and make it through to the Second Qualifying Round.
Saints have an impressive Euro away record
While Tommy Wright’s men may have won just one of their last eight European games at home, the club’s record on their continental travels is far more promising.
They’ve won two of the last five in 90 minutes, including a 1-0 victory to knock out Norwegian giants Rosenborg during Wright’s first season at the helm. Add to that draws away to the likes of Swiss side FC Luzern and European mainstays Spartak Trnava, and it’s hard to see them losing against such modest opposition in Lithuania.
We’re likely to see a more match-ready Saints side in the Baltics on Thursday night too, with the Perth outfit now having a competitive match and a friendly against Aberdeen under their belts in the past week.
Saints know how to shut teams out
If Wright’s side are to make it through, they’ll likely have to keep their opponents at bay. However, if you’d back any side in the competition to do that, it’s the Sainties, who managed an impressive 15 clean sheets in 36 league games last term.
They chalked up seven of those on their travels, proving themselves adept at pulling off impressive counter-attacking victories, including away wins by two or more goals against the likes of Aberdeen, Partick Thistle and Ross County.
While it’s an ambitious bet, we like the 25/1 on offer for a 3-0 Saints win in 90 minutes – something they achieved six times last season.
Squad and manager have Continental experience
If the Perth Saints were newboys in the Europa League, we’d have our doubts about tipping up the 16/5 for the visitors to win to nil in Lithuania. But they head into this game with a manager who’s now overseen European ties at the club in five of the past six seasons.
Of the XI who started the club’s triumph over Luzern in 2014, five are still regulars at McDiarmid Park, and many of those also featured in last year’s UEL tie against Alashkert.
With that in mind, it’s hard to look past the 27/20 for the Saints to win on the night. Let’s just say we think there’ll be a blue-and-white party in Trakai tomorrow night.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing