It would appear that Sporting does not care about the UEFA Europa League and that makes one rate Lokomotiv Moskva as the best bet on Thursday’s card of 24 group games.
Jorge Jesus led Benfica to the UEFA Europa League final in two of the last three seasons but the new Sporting manager seems to have fallen out of love with the tournament, which may have something to do with a couple of silver medals in it. Sporting hired Jesus with a view to winning its first Portuguese Primeira Liga championship since 2002 and, with the Lions five points clear of Porto but having played one more match, one thinks that the coach’s priorities lie at home. The reports out of Portugal suggest that Sporting is unlikely to field its strongest side away to a Lokomotiv Moskva team that won the reverse UEFA Europa League Group H game 3-1 and will qualify for the next stage with a victory.
There is no escaping the fact that Lokomotiv Moskva’s recent results have been poor – one win, albeit over Zenit, in its last seven matches across all competitions – but there may be a stark difference in motivation levels between Loko and Sporting and that is sufficient for one to pick the former at odds of +152 with Marathonbet. Sporting was simply not at the races in its latest UEFA Europa League Group H game, losing 0-3 away to the section’s weakling, Skenderbeu.
There is no way that Liverpool will be indifferent versus Bordeaux in UEFA Europa League Group B action on Thursday and one can only imagine what Saturday’s 4-1 English Premier League annihilation of Manchester City in enemy territory will have done for the confidence of the Reds. Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp is a far cry from the side that toiled under Brendan Rodgers and the charismatic boss knows that European nights at Anfield are fairly special occasions.
Liverpool will make the UEFA Europa League knockout stage if it becomes the latest team to send Bordeaux back to the wine region with its tail between its legs. Bordeaux has not won any of its last 10 away matches across all competitions and it has lost four of those games. Indeed, Bordeaux has posted only one away victory since early March and that was over an AEK Larnaca side that operates well below the highest level.
The reverse UEFA Europa League Group B match between Bordeaux and Liverpool resulted in a 1-1 draw but the Reds hit the woodwork in the first half and they had the better of the key statistics. One is expecting Liverpool to do the business and beat Bordeaux at odds of -189 with Bet365.
Of Thursday’s really warm UEFA Europa League favourites, the one that makes the most appeal is Sparta Praha, which will qualify for the next stage if it defeats Asteras and APOEL fails to beat Schalke. Betfred are offering odds of -333 that Sparta extends its fine home record in the tournament with a win.
Sparta Praha has won five, drawn three and lost zero of its eight UEFA Europa League home games since Chelsea scored a late goal to win 1-0 in the Czech capital two and a half years ago. Only once in those eight UEFA Europa League home matches has Sparta failed to live up to expectations so it is a reliable performer and it comes up against an Asteras team that boasts a disappointing record in the competition, including away losses at APOEL and Schalke in Group K.
One toyed with the idea of selecting the UEFA Europa League games between AZ and Partizan and Basel and Fiorentina to be relatively high scoring – both sides to score was the option that one considered – but Lokomotiv Moskva, Liverpool and Sparta Praha ended up making one’s portfolio of three.
Lokomotiv Moskva to beat Sporting
26th November 18:00 GMT
Liverpool to beat Bordeaux
26th November 20:05 GMT
Sparta Praha to beat Asteras
26th November 18:00 GMT
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