The UEFA Europa League knockout stage kicks off on Tuesday with one game and it just so happens to throw up the best bet on the week’s 16-match card – Fenerbahce to beat Lokomotiv Moskva at odds of -137 with Bet365.
Lokomotiv Moskva has not played a competitive game since its leading goal scorer, Oumar Niasse, transferred to Everton earlier this month. Lokomotiv coach Igor Cherevchenko is making all the right noises about his team being able to compete on the international stage without Niasse but one has one’s doubts because the Senegal forward contributed greatly during his short spell with the Red and Greens.
More than two months between meaningful matches is far from ideal for Lokomotiv Moskva, its most recently game resulted in a 1-2 friendly loss to AGF and it visits a Fenerbahce side that is top of the Turkish Super Lig ladder, although one should acknowledge that Besiktas is primed to overtake Fener because the Black Eagles have two matches in hand.
Fenerbahce is a formidable home team. Fenerbahce is 9-2-0 in the Turkish Super Lig, making it the only side among the elite that is yet to lose in front of its own fans. Overall, Fenerbahce’s home numbers in all competitions are 14-5-1 and, as everyone who follows European football knows, the top Turkish Super Lig teams punch above their weight in their own backyards. If Lokomotiv Moskva does not fancy it then Fenerbahce and its supporters will smell blood.
Liverpool made one look silly by thrashing Aston Villa 6-0 in the English Premier League on Sunday but one will forgive the Reds if they win their UEFA Europa League away game against Augsburg of the German Bundesliga on Thursday.
One suspects that Liverpool is a cut above Augsburg because the latter, which is 14th on the German Bundesliga ladder following 21 rounds, has posted just one league win over a side ranked in the top eight and that was thanks to a late goal in its 2-1 home victory over fifth-placed Schalke in December. Liverpool is the English Premier League’s most inconsistent team – for example, the Reds are 2-3-0 versus the top four sides but they have lost at home and away to fifth-placed Manchester United and seventh-placed West Ham – but its best is better than Augsburg can match. Liverpool is trading at odds of +125 with William Hill to register a UEFA Europa League success in Reds manager Jurgen Klopp’s first game in Germany since he parted company with Dortmund.
Finally, Molde may be the weakest team in the UEFA Europa League last 32 and one fears for MFK when they run out to play Sevilla on Thursday. None of Molde’s friendlies has gone well, including a last-start 1-2 to Goteborg, and it qualified for the UEFA Europa League knockout stage through one of the shallowest pools. According to aggregate scores, Molde is on a par with Ajax, Dinamo Zagreb and Standard Liege and one would fancy Sevilla against any of those sides, particularly in Spain. Sevilla is fifth on the Spanish Primera Division ladder after 24 rounds and it has won 11 home league matches in a row since dropping its first two of the championship. Barcelona and Real Madrid have lost at Sevilla in the Spanish Primera Division and the Red and Whites have registered six two-plus goal home victories.
PaddyPower is offering odds of -161 about Sevilla, which has won each of the last two editions of the UEFA Europa League, putting its tie versus Molde to bed by covering a one-goal spread in this week’s first leg in Spain.
Fenerbahce to beat Lokomotiv Moskva
17th February 15:00 GMT
Liverpool to beat Augsburg
18th February 20:05 GMT
Sevilla -1 to beat Molde
18th February 18:00 GMT
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