Europa League Acca Attack: There’s value in the away sides tonight
Thursday night football is back as some of the biggest sides in Europe embark on a gruelling campaign which sees the winner qualify for the biggest club competition in world football.
And while the likes of Leicester City and Celtic battle it out on the biggest stage, clubs such as Manchester United and Inter Milan will both be competing in the Europa League.
But which five sides feature in our Thursday night acca? Remember…
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Zenit St Petersburg to beat Maccabi Tel Aviv
These two sides have never met before, and although the Israeli outfit have won all four of their home European games so far this season, they face their toughest challenge yet when Zenit come to town.
The Russian side have had a steady start to their domestic campaign, sitting third in the table after six games, scoring six goals and conceding three.
Brazilian midfielder Giuliano has been in fine form too, netting four goals in as many games, while alongside him in midfield will be ex-Manchester City star Javi Garcia and Everton target Axel Witsel. These three alone should possess enough quality to carry their side through this one.
Roma to beat Viktoria Plzen
Again, these are two sides who’ll be meeting for the first time, and it’s Roma who are the even-money favourites to grab the three points.
The Italian giants competed in last year’s Champions League, qualifying in a group containing Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen and BATE Borisov.
Plzen missed out on qualification for the Champions League this summer after losing 4-2 on aggregate to Ludogorets, and thus were thrown into the Europa League.
Similarly to Zenit, quality oozes out of this Roma side, so expect nothing less than a perfect start for Luciano Spalletti’s men.
Fiorentina to beat PAOK
Another Italian side competing away from home tonight is Fiorentinan, who travel to Greece to face the side that finished fourth in their domestic league last year.
These two have met twice before, and in fact, the last time Fiorentina played PAOK away from home, they won 1-0.
PAOK’s record against Italian sides isn’t the best, either, winning just one of 12 fixtures.
Paulo Sousa’s men sailed through the group sages of the Europa League last year, before being knocked out in the last 32 by Tottenham Hotspur. However, at 6/4, there’s certainly some value in backing Fiorentina to get off to a winning start.
Ajax to beat Panathinaikos
Currently sitting third in Eredivisie, Ajax have enjoyed a steady start to the season after five games, while their opponents have only played one game in their league so far this year.
And the Dutch side have already played – and won – in Greece this campaign, beating PAOK 2-1 in a Champions League qualifier.
18-year-old Ajax youth product Kasper Dolberg has already found the net twice in four league games, as well as scoring a fantastic goal from outside the area against PAOK back in July, and there’s every chance of him grabbing another tonight in a win for de Godenzonen.
Fenerbahce to beat Zorya Lugansk
Granted, Fenerbahce haven’t had the best of starts in their league as they look to win their first title in three seasons, but they’re up against a side who are competing in the Europa League group stages for the first time.
Zorya Lugansk managed a fourth-place finish last year in the Ukrainian Premier League, but will be up against the likes of Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Emenike tonight, a real challenge for even the biggest sides in European football.
Dick Advocaat’s men are 3/4 favourites to win their opening game, and they should do so in style.
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