The Champions League’s younger and slightly crazier brother is back tonight and Everton, Tottenham and Celtic are all in action. What the Europa League lacks in megastars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, it more than makes up for with teams you can’t spell and unsung heroes who still snaffle a ton of goals in a league in Russia.
Guessing the starting teams for the British sides is sometimes a punting minefield in itself, with the revelation of a teenage winger from the Youth Squad destroying many an anytime goalscorer accumulator. But the Paddy Power Blog team aren’t known for shying away from challenges. We’re not known for our tipping either to be honest, but that’s never stopped us. So here’s a 30/1 treble fuelled by the luck of the Irish (if you count Harry Kane’s granddad).
FK Krasnodar v Everton (Kick-off 5.00pm, ITV4)
One man’s pain, is another man’s gain. That’s a completely inappropriate and unprofessional thought, but Kevin Mirallas’ hamstring troubles have come at a good time for Irishman Aidan McGeady, and there are plenty of reasons to back him to get on the scoresheet tonight.
The flying winger has scored just once this season – on the opening day against Leicester – and he has hit just 14 per cent of his shots on target, but that isn’t putting us off too much. For one McGeady isn’t short of confidence and isn’t shy in going for goal. Despite playing just 315 minutes of league football this year he’s already had 11 attempts on goal. Only Romelu Lukaku (19 shots in 500 minutes) and Mirallas (13 shots in 331 minutes) have had more attempts for Everton.
McGeady also has the benefit of playing in Russia before. For four years he plied his trade for Spartak Moscow, so has experience – and even a goal – against Krasnodar already. With the potential of Roberto Martinez resting a few players ahead of the trip to Manchester United on Sunday, Aidan McGeady could have more licence to go forward, and that makes these odds well worth a punt.
Celtic v Dinamo Zagreb (Kick-off 8.05pm, BT Sport 1)
What? A man who hasn’t scored in Europe since November 3 2011? A striker who has scored in just one of 21 European ties? Yeah, that’s right. The law of averages says it’s about time Anthony Stokes broke his unwanted record and we’re banking on him doing it tonight at Celtic Park.
On loan Swedish superstar John Guidetti isn’t eligible to play in the Europa League, while Kris Commons is facing a race to be fit after tearing a muscle in his arse. It’s a real bummer. Get it? Bummer. Because of his arse. I’m here all week guys.
Stokes’ record isn’t all bad, despite his European problems. He bagged 20 goals in 33 league games last year and has found the onion bag twice in six top flight Scottish games this term. A European goal is long overdue and hopefully, as the Spice Girls said in ‘2 Become 1’, tonight is the night.
- Can the Hoops pick up three European points? The latest odds are just a click away: Desktop | Mobile
Tottenham v Besiktas (Kick-off 8.05pm, ITV4)
Spurs striker Harry Kane has just 39 minutes of top flight football under his belt this season, but in the cup competitions he’s well worth a punt. Two goals in three Europa League starts and a goal from the bench in the Capital One Cup win against Nottingham Forest suggest that when he’s one the pitch he’s a threat. Kane has started all three of Tottenham’s Europa League games this season, so you’d be confident that he’ll be leading the line again at White Hart Lane against Besiktas.
Throw into the mix that Spurs have lost just one of their last 12 European games at home (including qualifiers), winning nine and drawing two, you’d be confident that the Londoners can pick up three points, and Harry Kane could be the man to fire them to victory. He might be a source of ridicule on Twitter, but we’ll be having the last laugh if he pops up with a goal against Besiktas. Hopefully…
- Will it be White Hart Pain for Besiktas tonight? Get the latest odds on Spurs here: Desktop | Mobile