Astra to Hit the Stars in UEFA Europa League

Astra Giurgiu knocked West Ham out of last year's Europa League qualifiers.

Astra Giurgiu knocked West Ham out of last year's Europa League qualifiers.

Astra has played sufficiently well in previous UEFA Europa League campaigns, particularly on its home pitch, to be a warm favourite for its game versus Olexandriya on Thursday.

Nine UEFA Europa League matches on Astra’s field over the last three seasons have resulted in three home wins, five draws and one home loss to an Austria Wien side, a result that the Black Devils avenged in Vienna two months later.

Astra won Romanian Liga I two terms ago and it was in the hunt for back-to-back titles at the end of the regular season only to fall away badly in the championship round, giving up the ghost once it could not finish in top spot. This term’s Romania Liga I competition is two rounds old, with Astra winning its first home game 3-1 over Zira.

Olexandriya, which represents the Ukrainian Premier League that Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk have dominated for years, has not won a competitive match since April when it posted a 1-0 home victory over Olimpik Donetsk. Olexandriya has drawn four and lost four of its last eight meaningful games and it has not registered an away success in eight barren months. UEFA Europa League road victories are tough by which to come at this stage of the tournament and, in light of Olexandriya’s numbers, one must oppose it.

SunBets are offering odds of +138  about an Astra win over Olexandriya and, on what one rates as a UEFA Europa League coupon short on attractive bets, the Black Devils constitute the most appealing punting vehicle.

Of the short-priced sides on Thursday’s UEFA Europa League third qualifying round first leg card, Marseille stands out at odds of -278  with Bet365 and William Hill to get the better of Oostende at the atmospheric Stade Velodrome.

According to one’s records, Marseille has not lost a match in normal time, irrespective of its status, since it lost 1-5 at home to Paris Saint-Germain in February. Among the teams that Marseille has beaten in preparation for its UEFA Europa League opener are Fenerbahce, Sporting and Viitorul, the unheralded new Romanian Liga I champion. Oostende, on the other hand, has not won any of its last four warm-up games, including a 0-0 home draw with Lille, a side that finished 16 points behind Marseille in French Ligue 1.

Only Paris Saint-Germain conceded fewer French Ligue 1 home goals last season than Marseille, whereas Oostende’s Belgian First Division A away data was nothing more than average.

Finally, one thinks that there is a case for backing both teams to score when Brondby hosts Hajduk Split in UEFA Europa League third qualifying round action on Thursday.

Brondby is odds on across the board to defeat Hadjuk Split in Denmark and, certainly, its most recent home result of a 4-0 victory over Midtjylland reads well. But Brondby was not particularly convincing in its 3-2 aggregate success over VPS in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round and Hadjuk Split’s record suggests that it will not die wondering. Hadjuk Split has scored at least two goals in each of its last four competitive matches but it has gone five such games since it managed to keep a clean sheet.

William Hill is quoting odds of -105  about both Brondby and Hadjuk Split getting on the scoresheet and that rounds out one’s UEFA Europa League third qualifying round first leg plays. One expects the aforementioned exotic option to be around the -133  mark by the time that the match kicks off.

Tips Summary

Astra to beat Olexandriya
Thursday 27th July, 18:30 GMT
Odds:  +138

Marseille to beat Oostende
Thursday 27th July, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -278

Brondby v Hadjuk Split – Both teams to score
Thursday 27th July, 19:00 GMT
Odds:  -278