The Champions League’s slightly crazier little brother is back in action on Thursday as Spurs, Everton and Celtic begin their European adventure. The Europa League features plenty of teams we’ve never heard of but look like they’ll be worth a ton of points in Scrabble, plus it gives us a great opportunity to tuck into some Thursday football as the dark evenings draw ever closer.
For the opening week we’ve looked at each of the games featuring the UK teams and looked at the likely winners, number of goals, alternative value punts and some optimistic correct scores. Whether you’re more inclined to plump for the 4/1 treble on the win-draw-win market, the 9/2 over or under 2.5 goals treble, or the 40/1 alternative value treble depends on whether you’re a dreamer or a realist.
Either way you’d be mad to miss a whole heap of Thursday night football.
Partizan Belgrade v Tottenham
- Partizan Belgrade are the 25-time national league Champions. They are bidding for their seventh Serbian SuperLiga title on the spin and have kicked off the season in style winning all five of their opening games
- Tottenham have started their domestic season less spectacularly, hammered 3-0 at home to Liverpool and then dropping points in a 2-2 draw away to Sunderland. A narrow win on the opening day against local rivals West Ham and a 4-0 thumping of newly-promoted QPR were significant high points however under new gaffer Mauricio Pochettino
Likely winner: Tottenham at 4/6
Over 2.5 goals? We’d go for Yes at 4/5. In Partizan’s five home games this season (Domestic and European) there have been 21 goals, an average of more than four a game. Five of Spurs’ last six games have featured over 2.5 and they’ve scored nine goals in their last four games. This one should be no different.
Alternative punt: Tottenham/Tottenham in the Half-time/Full-time market at 8/5. In the group stages of the Europa League last year Tottenham had the lead in six of their eight games by the break.
Tenuous correct score prediction: Partizan 0-3 Tottenham at 12/1
Red Bull Salzburg v Celtic
- Red Bull Salzburg have eight Austrian Bundesliga titles in the last two decades and made the UEFA Cup final in 1994. This season they’ve won six of their eight games and sit just three points off leaders Wolfsberger in second
- Celtic lost just once last season in the Scottish Premiership, racking up 99 points on the way to their third league title on the spin. Under new gaffer Ronny Deila though they haven’t had it all their own way, getting knocked out of the Champions League (twice!) and already dropping points away to Inverness and Dundee
Likely winner: Red Bull Salzburg at 2/5
Over 2.5 goals? Again, we’re plumping for Yes at 4/7. Salzburg have scored 25 goals in six home games this year (an average of 4.2 a game) while also conceding five. Celtic have conceded in four of their six away games this term and look flimsier in defence than soggy biscuit
Alternative punt: Jonathan Soriano to score first at 16/5. The Salzburg captain scored 39 goals in 35 appearances last season and already has 11 goals in seven games this year. He’ll give Celtic fans more to think about than the independence vote going down back on home soil
Tenuous correct score prediction: Red Bull Salzburg 3-1 Celtic at 10/1
Everton v Wolfsburg
- Wolfsburg have won the Bundesliga just once in their history (08/09 season) and similarly to Everton, are used to fighting it out for the European qualifying spots rather than the league title. This season hasn’t started well with defeat to Bayern Munich and draws with Frankfurt and Hoffenheim
- Everton are back in Europe after a fifth place finish under Roberto Martinez this season. They’ve had a mixed start to the season, throwing away leads late on to draw with Leicester and Arsenal before following up a 6-3 hammering at the hands of Chelsea with a comfortable 2-0 win over West Brom
Likely winner: Everton at 23/20
Over 2.5 goals? This time were backing No at 10/11. Wolfsburg have managed two goals in three away games this year, and while Everton have found scoring easy to come by – nine goals in four Premier League games – this is likely to be considerably tighter.
Alternative punt: Everton to win by exactly one goal at 11/4. Last year Everton lost just three home games in the Premier League and have built a strong reception for being tough to beat at Goodison Park. Almost two-thirds of those games were won by one-goal margins however, and this is set to be another close call.
Tenuous correct score prediction: Everton 1-0 Wolfsburg 7/1
- Will Everton’s home form prove too much for Wolfsburg? Dive into the latest betting: Desktop | Mobile