The UEFA Europa League knockout stage kicks off on Thursday and the best bet on the program is Olympiacos to get the better of Osmanlispor.
Olympiacos leads the Greek Super League after 20 rounds and its home record across all competitions is excellent – the Legend are 12-3-0 in their last 15 games in front of their own supporters. Olympiacos is 13 points clear of its nearest Greek Super League rival, Panionios, so Legend coach Paulo Bento can field his strongest possible line-up against Osmanlispor without fear of stuffing up domestically.
Osmanlispor is ninth on the Turkish Super Lig ladder after 20 rounds of its bread-and-butter tournament. Osmanlispor struggled while Senegal midfielder Badou Ndiaye was away on CAF Africa Cup of Nations duty but, while he has returned, out has gone Nigeria U20 striker Aminu Umar due to injury. Osmanlispor is 1-6-3 in its 10 Turkish Super Lig matches against higher ranked teams so, if anything, its ladder position is flattering so one is opposing the Ottomans. Olympiacos can be backed at odds of -149 with 188Bet and William Hill.
Bookmakers are finding it tough to split Hapoel Beer-Sheva and Besiktas but one thinks that presents an opportunity to back the former on the draw-no-bet market for the first leg of their UEFA Europa League tie. Hapoel, which boasts the nickname of the Camels, is available at odds of -101 with Marathonbet to win with the safety net of draw no bet.
Hapoel Beer Sheva leads the way in the Israeli Ligat Ha’al competition, sitting on top of the ladder not least because of its 10-1-0 home record. Hapoel registered UEFA Champions League home wins over Sheriff, Olympiacos and Celtic prior to dropping into the UEFA Europa League and the Camels were too good for Internazionale in UEFA’s secondary tournament, posting two victories over the Black and Blues. Hapoel holds a five-point lead over Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the Israel Ligat Ha’al so, like Olympiacos versus Osmanlispor, it can afford to focus on the UEFA Europa League for the time being.
Besiktas is just two points clear at the top of the Turkish Super Lig ladder, it has failed to defeat any of its fellow top-four sides and its UEFA Champions League campaign ended with a 0-6 loss at Dynamo Kyiv in which the Black Eagles had two players sent off. No fewer than three Besiktas men are suspended for their bow in this season’s UEFA Europa League and the Black Eagles have injuries to regular starters also.
Athletic rounds out one’s UEFA Europa League picks at odds of -294 with Marathonbet to beat APOEL, a side that boasts an appalling away record in the various UEFA competitions.
APOEL is a combined 2-7-13 in its 22 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League road games since the start of the 2013-2014 season, during which time it has failed to beat the likes of Neftci, Vadar and The New Saints. Athletic is 8-3-1 at home in the Spanish Primera Division this term, with Barcelona being the only visitor to win in Bilbao.
Spanish Primera Division teams have a terrific record in the UEFA Europa League and for Athletic, seven points adrift of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid with 16 domestic rounds remaining, winning the continental tournament is its most viable route in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
Olympiacos to beat Osmanlispor
Thursday 16th February, 19:00 GMT
Hapoel Beer Sheva to beat Besiktas (Draw No Bet)
Thursday 16th February, 20:05 GMT
Athletic Bilbao to beat APOEL
Thursday 16th February, 20:05 GMT
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