Benfica to bash Alkmaar from A to Z

BenficaThe UEFA Europa League quarter-final ties end on Thursday and one can see all four second-leg hosts winning on home soil, with the pick of the bets being Benfica to cover a one-goal handicap against AZ at odds of 2.10 with Sky Bet.

Benfica had too much class for AZ in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg between the teams, going in front three minutes after the break and finishing off the game well on top. AZ had enjoyed a soft passage to the UEFA Europa League last eight but, once that it faced a strong side in the knockout stage, its world fell apart quickly.

And it would seem that there is no way back for AZ, either. AZ has not win any of its last five away matches and, in a sure sign that it does not travel well, its Dutch Eredivisie road statistics are three wins, three draws and 10 losses, which constitutes the worst away numbers in the top 10.

Benfica has not lost a competitive home game since Barcelona triumphed 2-0 in Lisbon in October 2012. Since then Benfica has played 43 matches in front of its vociferous supporters for 35 wins and eight draws. AZ is not in Barcelona’s class so, provided that Benfica takes the second leg of the UEFA Europa League quarter-final seriously – and one thinks that it will because 1-0 is a precarious lead – then the home team should prevail, probably by a comfortable margin.

Combine Benfica’s strong home form with AZ’s weak away form and an odds-against bet on Benfica winning by two or more goals appeals more than an odds-on bet on it just winning.

Like Benfica, Juventus is a superb home performer that leads its UEFA Europa League quarter-final tie 1-0 after recording an away victory last week. A 1-0 advantage going into a home second leg is not a tie-killing one because an away goal is all that it would take to put the cat amongst the pigeons so Juve will have to treat the return game with due respect.

Juventus has not experienced a home defeat since going down 0-2 to the subsequent UEFA Champions League winner Bayern Munchen in last term’s quarter-finals. Since then Juve has played 24 home games for 20 wins and four draws, with the sides to avoid defeat in Turin being Cagliari, Fiorentina, Galatasaray and Real Madrid. One rates Lyon as markedly inferior to Fiorentina, Galatasaray and Real Madrid.

Unlike Benfica, Juventus wins a lot of matches by relatively narrow margins so one is not keen to back Juve on one of the handicap lines. But odds of 1.36 with Coral and Paddy Power about Juve winning the UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg by any margin at all seem more than reasonable.

Finally, Porto could struggle to maintain its UEFA Europa League quarter-final lead over Sevilla so SEVILLA FC VS. REAL MADRID back the Spanish Primera Division team at odds of 1.90 with BetVictor to win its home leg having lost 0-1 in Portugal last week.

There is a big difference between the home form of Sevilla and the away form of Porto. Sevilla has won five of its last half a dozen home matches, with its only slip up being a 0-2 loss to Betis in a derby where the form book really does go out of the window. Porto has not won any of its last six away games and its Portuguese Primeira Liga road record reads five wins, three draws and five losses. The Portuguese top flight is a long way from being the strongest in Europe so for Porto to have such mediocre away statistics ought to be a big concern for any punter considering backing it.

Valencia will host Basel in the other UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg but, while one thinks that the Spanish Primera Division side will win at its Mestalla ground, it does not appeal as a betting proposition.

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