Thun is deservedly bottom of the Swiss Super League and one thinks that it could cop a hammer from Czech Liga leader Sparta Praha in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.
Ciriaco Sforza is a legend of Swiss soccer for his exploits as a central midfielder with Bayern Munchen, Internazionale and Kaiserslautern but his managerial career has not hit the same heights, failing at Luzern and Grasshopper before Thun hired him. One supported Thun in the previous UEFA Europa League round versus fellow Swiss side Vaduz and paid the price. One is not going to make the same mistake again.
Thun has accrued just three points from its five Swiss Super League matches and those came courtesy of a 3-2 victory over promoted team Lugano. Thun eliminated Vaduz – second bottom of the Swiss Super League ladder with three points as well – from the UEFA Europa League on away goals after not leading the tie at any stage across the two legs. Thun is one of the weakest sides left in the UEFA Europa League and one wants to back Sparta Praha to put it in its rightful place.
Sparta Praha went toe to toe with CSKA Moskva in the UEFA Champions League preliminaries and it took a red card for Marek Matejovsky to turn the tie in favour of the Russian Premier League team – the Czech Liga frontrunner lost 4-5 on aggregate after the battle was level at 4-4 when Matejovsky received his marching orders. Sparta has collected 10 points from its four Czech Liga games, including a maximum of six from its home matches versus Banik Ostrava and Zlin.
Unibet are offering perfectly reasonable odds of -238 about Sparta Praha beating Thun in the Czech Republic. But one believes that it is worth the extra risk of backing Sparta to defeat Thun by more than one goal at odds of +120 with PaddyPower.
Another UEFA Europa League home side that one thinks may be far too strong for its Thursday guest is Krasnodar, which has the pleasure of welcoming Finland’s HJK to Russia.
Krasnodar, sixth in the Russian Premier League after half a dozen rounds, is coming off a 2-0 win at title holder Zenit, whereas the wheels are falling off at HJK, which lost its Finnish Suomen Cup semi-final 1-5 at a Mariehamn team 12 points behind it on the Finnish Veikkausliiga ladder. A couple of key players – Mike Havenaar and Valtteri Moren – have left HJK since it crashed out of the UEFA Champions League 3-4 on aggregate to Astana because of the concession of a 93rd-minute goal. HJK’s campaigns, both at home and abroad, are in danger of imploding in the matter of weeks.
Bwin is offering odds of -154 that Krasnodar beats HJK in Russia by more than one goal and that looks like a sound play given the gulf in class between the two sides.
Finally, Saint-Etienne dusted Milsami when the teams met in the UEFA Europa League two seasons ago and one is expecting the famous French side to do a number on its Moldovan foe when they clash in the eastern European country on Thursday.
Saint-Etienne defeated Milsami 3-0 at home and 3-0 on the road in the UEFA Europa League preliminaries in 2013 and the latter finds itself in this term’s competition after losing 0-4 on aggregate to Skenderbeu Korce in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers – that is a weak form line. Saint-Etienne smashed Targu Mures 3-0 in Romania and, therefore, one is willing to forgive its 1-2 home loss in the second leg.
Bookies are offering odds of -156 that Saint-Etienne beats Milsami in Moldova and turns next week’s UEFA Europa League play-offs second leg in France into a formality.
Sparta Praha -1 to beat Thun
20th August 18:00 GMT
Where to Bet: PaddyPower
Krasnodar -1 to beat HJK
20th August 18:00 GMT
Where to Bet: Bwin
Saint-Etienne to beat Milsami
20th August 18:30 GMT