FCSB and Plzen clashed over two legs in the UEFA Champions League preliminaries and, with recent head-to-head form on which to ruminate, it is surprising that bookmakers are offering generous odds about both teams scoring.
In late July and early August FCSB – the new name for Steaua Bucaresti – and Plzen faced off in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. The first leg of that tie in Romania resulted in a 2-2 draw in which FCSB fought back from 0-1 and 1-2 down. The second leg in the Czech Republic one week later ended 4-1 in favour of FCSB with the game getting away from Plzen once FCSB led 2-1 on the road and the rules of the UEFA Champions League began to favour the visitor.
One has no doubt that some UEFA Europa League punters will latch on to FCSB to win Thursday’s first leg at odds against based on the 6-3 aggregate success that it enjoyed over Plzen last month. But the statistics pertaining to those UEFA Europa League matches suggest that there is little to choose between FCSB and Plzen, hence why one is steering clear of the main market and heading for an exotic line.
Both sides have scored in six of FCSB’s seven home games across all competitions this season, while there has not been a clean sheet in two of Plzen’s five away matches. Take the -110 on offer with Bet365 and William Hill on both sides finding the net.
Hoffenheim defied the odds to beat Bayern Munchen at home for the second German Bundesliga campaign in a row so its spirits will be high ahead of its UEFA Europa League home game versus Braga on Thursday. Hoffenheim is short odds – -222 with Bwin – to get the better of Braga and one rates that as the second best bet on the UEFA Europa League card.
A 9-1-1 record this year indicates that Hoffenheim is very good on its own pitch and, remember, it had the better of the play when losing 1-2 to Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League play-offs – Andrej Kramaric squandered a penalty kick in the 12th minute that may have transformed the match.
Braga is a level below the top Portuguese Primeira Liga teams as it showed in its first championship road trip, losing 1-3 at Benfica in August. If Hoffenheim can beat Bayern Munchen then it should be too strong for Braga.
One does not have much respect for the quality of the Dutch Eredivisie so one is going to suggest backing Lazio at odds of +100 with several bookmakers, including Betfred and William Hill, to defeat Vitesse in the Netherlands.
Vitesse is second on the Dutch Eredivisie ladder following four rounds of action but that includes a 1-2 home loss to AZ. The Dutch Eredivisie is shallow in terms of talent so its top sides are poorly equipped to deal with the attacks of strong teams from more competitive leagues. For example, Lazio, which is fourth on the Italian Serie A ladder after three rounds and beat Juventus in the Italian Supercoppa Italiana before the serious business got under way.
Like Hoffenheim, Lazio will kick off its UEFA Europa League group program off the back of a very impressive domestic victory – the White and Sky Blues massacred Milan 4-1 on Sunday, scoring four goals in 12 minutes either side of half time to end the 100 per cent record of the Red and Blacks.
FCSB v Plzen – Both teams to score
Thursday 14th September, 20:05 GMT
Hoffenheim to beat Braga
Thursday 14th September, 18:00 GMT
Lazio to beat Vitesse
Thursday 14th September, 20:05 GMT
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