Supporting Wolfsburg has been a common punting theme in recent months and one thinks that the Wolves are worth backing to beat Sporting in the UEFA Europa League.
Wolfsburg needed a last-minute goal to defeat Leverkusen 5-4 in the German Bundesliga on Saturday but the Wolves led 3-0 at one stage and any team that scores five goals away from home deserves to earn three points. The win was Wolfsburg’s seventh in its 10-match unbeaten run across all competitions and the Wolves look nailed on for second place in the German Bundesliga and a UEFA Champions League qualification berth.
Being eight points behind first-placed Bayern Munchen and eight points ahead of third-placed Monchengladbach means that Wolfsburg can divert its attention from the German Bundesliga to the UEFA Europa League without fearing the consequences. So one expects Wolfsburg to treat the UEFA Europa League seriously and that is bad news for Sporting.
Like Wolfsburg, Sporting has not experienced many recent defeats but its run of 10 wins, four draws and one loss since losing 1-3 at Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League does not warrant the same adulation as the run of the Wolves. Braga is the strongest side that Sporting has defeated over the last two months and the statistics of Marco Silva’s team on the road in UEFA tournaments are poor.
Sporting dropped into the UEFA Europa League because it finished third in UEFA Champions League Group G when its away results were 1-3 at Chelsea, 1-1 at Maribor and 3-4 at Schalke. Zurich was the last side that Sporting beat away from home in a UEFA competition and that victory occurred in November 2011. Since then Sporting’s road record in UEFA tournament reads zero wins, four draws and nine losses.
One may have been unfair on Salzburg in the first half of the UEFA Europa League but still one wants to oppose the Red Bull-backed team, not least because two of its star players, Alan and Kevin Kampl, have joined Guangzhou Evergrande and Dortmund respectively recently and not been replaced.
Salzburg’s next UEFA Europa League assignment is a match at Villarreal and the Yellow Submarine’s home form is such that one wants to be on them at odds of -161 with WilliamHill.
Villarreal has won each of its last eight home games across all competitions without conceding a goal and one has to go back to this time last year for the last home loss that the Yellow Submarine suffered to a side other than Barcelona, Real Madrid or Valencia. To put it simply, Villarreal wins the matches that one expects it to win and one expects that it should be too strong for a weakened Salzburg squad. Also favouring Villarreal is Salzburg’s shortage of competitive action, with the Austrian Bundesliga leader travelling to Spain having played just one meaningful game in 2015.
Another UEFA Europa League away team that may be underdone is Legia Warszawa, which has to play Ajax in the Netherlands off the back of only two competitive matches this year, neither of which it won. Ajax’s glory days are long gone but it has taken some big scalps in recent times, including Barcelona and Manchester City. Home advantage is huge in UEFA Europa League games, Ajax is battle hardened and Legia Warszawa could be soft so one likes Frank de Boer’s high-scoring side at odds of +100 with WilliamHill.
With regards to UEFA Europa League exotics, the standout bet is over two and a half goals in what promises to be an open match between Trabzonspor and Napoli in Turkey. Trabzonspor is the entertainer of the Turkish Super Lig, with its games averaging 3.45 goals and 14 out of 20 going over two and a half goals. Napoli is Italian Serie A’s third best team to watch if one likes goals because its 23 league matches have had an average of 3.13 goals and 13 of them have gone over two and a half goals. PaddyPower are offering odds of +100 about Trabzonspor and Napoli combining for over two and a half goals. One has every reason to think that Trabzonspor and Napoli will play their natural games in Turkey, which should result in lots of goalmouth action.
Villarreal to beat Salzburg
19th February 20:05 GMT
Where to Bet: WilliamHill
Ajax to beat Legia Warszawa
19th February 20:05 GMT
Whereto Bet: WilliamHill
Trabzonspor v Napoli Over 2.5 goals
19th February 18:00 GMT
Where to Bet: PaddyPower
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