Home sweet home for unlucky first-leg travellers

The strategy for betting on the latest batch of UEFA Europa League matches is to find the teams that performed well in their away legs but did not get their just reward and have something for which to play in front of their own fans.

Top of that list is Lokomotiv Moskva, which drew 1-1 with Apollon in Cyprus last week. Lokomotiv Moskva took the lead through Alan Kasaev six minutes before half time and it was comfortable until Yan Tigorev received a straight red card in the 76th minute. Abraham Guie Gneki equalised for Apollon with 10 minutes to go and Lokomotiv Moskva ended the game with just nine players following the late dismissal of Vitali Denisov for a second cautionable offence.

Lokomotiv Moskva had the better of the match statistics in Cyprus and, while Denisov and Tigorev are suspended for the UEFA Europa League play-offs second leg in Russia, neither is one of the favourite side’s key players. Lokomotiv Moskva has not lost a competitive home game since July 2013, with its record reading 11 wins and six draws since it lost 1-2 to city rival CSKA Moskva in the Russian Premier League.

Apollon travels to Russia having lost its first match of the Cypriot 1 Division season 2-5 at home to AEK Larnaca and its away numbers across all competitions last season were fairly ordinary. One thinks that Lokomotiv Moskva should be shorter than the odds of -250  that many bookmakers, including Bet365 and Paddy Power, are offering about a home win.

Rapid Wien is nicely priced at odds of -125  with Bet365 and William Hill to win its UEFA Europa League play-offs second leg versus HJK in Austria after losing the first leg 1-2 in Finland when the home team enjoyed the rub of the green.

Stefan Schwab put Rapid Wien into the lead last week before HJK scored not once but twice against the run of play. The statistics pointed to Rapid Wien being the better side, with the away team having twice as many attempts and corner kicks as the home outfit. The score was harsh on Rapid Wien, hence why one is keen to back it on its own patch to beat a HJK side that may be running away with the Finnish Veikkausliiga but has failed most of its difficult road assignments.

Only the most one-eyed Zimbru supporter would deny that PAOK was the superior team in the UEFA Europa League play-offs first leg between the sides in Moldova last week. PAOK had 16 attempts to Zimbru’s six, the away team forced six corner kicks to the home side’s two and it was a shock when Stefan Burghiu scored against the run of play in the 80th minute.

For many years PAOK has been a team synonymous with a large home advantage because, quite frankly, playing at the Stadio Toumbas is an ordeal for away sides. The three teams to have beaten PAOK in front of its vociferous fans since the start of last season are Ukraine’s Metalist (0-2), Germany’s Schalke (2-3) and Portugal’s Benfica (0-1). Overall, since the beginning of last term, PAOK’s home record across all competitions reads 24 wins, four draws and three defeats.

Zimbru is not in the same class as Metalist, Schalke and Benfica and, so far in this season’s UEFA Europa League, its away results have been a 2-1 win over Austria’s Grodig, a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria’s CSKA Sofia and a 1-2 loss to Macedonia’s Shkendija. Zimbru will need to produce a personal best road performance to stop PAOK in Greece.

Several bookmakers, including BetVictor, William Hill and Paddy Power, are offering odds of -303  about a PAOK win over Zimbru. PAOK looks like a home banker for multiples.

Tips Summary

Lokomotiv Moskva to beat Apollon
28th August 16:00 GMT
Odds:  -250
Where to Bet:  Bet365, Paddy Power

Rapid Wien to beat HJK
28th August 19:30 GMT
Odds:  -125
Where to Bet: Bet365, William Hill

PAOK to beat Zimbru
28th August 17:15 GMT
Odds:  -303
Where to Bet: BetVictorWilliam Hill, Paddy Power

Europa League
Lokomotiv Moskva
Paddy Power
Rapid Wien
William Hill

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