Back Aberdeen to breeze through in Europa League with Latvian win
After an impressive late flurry gave Aberdeen a 3-0 first-leg lead over Latvian outfit FK Ventspils, Derek McInnes’ men look likely to seal progression to the Europa League third qualifying round with a comfortable victory in Riga.
Back in Scotland, Heart of Midlothian host Birkirkara, following a 0-0 draw in Malta where the Jam Tarts were desperately unlucky not to return home with a victory. And following a 1-0 defeat at Easter Road, Hibs will need their big guns on song to overcome Danish heavyweights Brondby.
Here’s our preview – and betting tips – for the action ahead.
Ventspils v Aberdeen (Thursday 16:30)
A tense 70 minutes at Pittodrie suddenly burst into life with Jayden Stockley’s superbly headed opener in the first leg, and that aerial prowess will prove too much for the Latvian outfit to handle once again.
The Dons have tasted victory in three of their last seven away games in Europe, including a 3-0 win at Ventspils’ city rivals Daugava Riga in 2014, while their opponents have failed to beat the likes of Airbus UK and Teteks on their patch in this competition.
That means Aberdeen are the men to back in the match betting at 10/11 for victory – while their hosts are 3/1 and it’s 13/5 for the draw. However, there could be plenty of value in backing another 3-0 triumph for the Reds at 14/1.
Hearts v Birkirkara (Thursday 20:00)
Robbie Neilson’s charges did everything but score in the first leg, with Alim Ozturk rattling the bar in Malta, while Stripes’ stopper Miroslav Kopri produced a slew of outstanding saves to somehow keep the Jam Tarts at bay. But there’s little chance of luck – and another Kopri masterclass – securing a second clean sheet.
And that means Hearts look good value to win – even as 2/5 hot-favourites – with Birkirkara having scored just twice in their last four away games. Conversely, the Edinburgh giants have netted in 15 of their last 16 at Tynecastle, so the 6/5 for Hearts to win to nil could offer the best value of all.
Meanwhile, backing Conor Sammon to open his Hearts account with a goal in Gorgie is likely to prove popular at 6/4.
Brondby v Hibernian (Thursday 19:00)
While Neil Lennon’s men go into this clash as clear underdogs, already 1-0 down to the Danish heavyweights following the first leg, they have a manager with plenty of experience in upsetting the odds on the continent.
The current Cabbage boss guided Celtic to victories over Barcelona, Ajax and Spartak Moscow (home and away) during his tenure at Parkhead. That fact, coupled with Hibs’ strong first leg display, which certainly deserved a goal, means there’s plenty of reason to back the Easter Road outfit to progress here.
It’s 15/2 for Hibs to win on the night, while the 7/2 for prolific hitman Jason Cummings to score anytime could be the best value bet of all, with the 20-year-old having netted nine times on the road last season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing