Yellow Submarine to Sink Sparta

Villarreal have won five of five home Europa League matches.

Villarreal’s Spanish Primera Division and UEFA Europa League form entitles it to being the headline act from a punting perspective when it entertains Sparta Praha on Thursday.

Villarreal is fourth in the Spanish Primera Division, eight points clear of fifth-placed Celta and its home victims have included Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. Villarreal has put up a few shocking Spanish Primera Division performances – its away losses to relegation candidates Getafe and Levante stand out – otherwise the Yellow Submarine would be pushing Atletico and Real for second position in the competition.

Five UEFA Europa League home matches have resulted in five wins to nil for Villarreal and it is not as though it has been beating poor teams – the Yellow Submarine have defeated Leverkusen and Napoli in their most recent assignments and their first scalp was Czech Liga leader Viktoria Plzen. That is hugely significant because Viktoria is nine points ahead of Sparta Praha on the Czech Liga ladder and it has won each of the last three meetings between the Czech heavyweights.

The best of the rest in Europe’s most top-heavy domestic league, Villarreal are attractively priced at odds of -175  with BetfredWilliam Hill and Totesport to rack up a UEFA Europa League lead over a Sparta Praha side that is about to encounter its first truly strong opponent in its fun run to the tournament’s last eight.

Sparta Praha has been exciting to watch on its UEFA Europa League journey, scoring in every one of its 14 games across both of UEFA’s competitions. Indeed, both sides have scored in nine of Sparta’s 14 matches in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. But there are huge holes in Sparta’s international form lines, with its results in eliminating Krasnodar and Lazio not reading very well given the domestic troubles of the Russian and Italian teams. Also, Sparta has conceded many more post-group stage UEFA Europa League fouls than any other side left in the tournament and it has picked up the most yellow cards over the same 10-round period.

The home team should be one’s first thought when betting on UEFA Europa League games, particularly at this stage of the competition, and one is willing to select Braga at odds of +162  with William Hill to beat Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday.

Braga’s home form is such that odds of +162  are likely to tempt quite a large number of UEFA Europa League punters. Braga is a startling 16-5-1 in its 22 home matches across all tournaments, including a recent 3-1 victory over the Portuguese Primeira Liga’s third-placed side, Porto.

Shakhtar Donetsk has strung together three UEFA Europa League triumphs after going a long while without a victory in the competition. Shakhtar is likely to find itself on the back foot at Braga and the Ukrainian Premier League team’s task is not going to be easy without one of its regular central defenders. Olexandr Kucher is suspended after he received his marching orders at Anderlecht – it was his second red card in his last three UEFA Europa League games.

Finally, over two and a half goals in the Jurgen Klopp derby between UEFA Europa League favourite Dortmund and Liverpool feels like a fair shout at odds of -118  with Marathonbet.

Twenty-nine of Dortmund’s 46 matches across all tournaments have gone over two and a half goals, including 16 of its 22 home games. Liverpool’s statistics are not as compelling – the Reds have rewarded under-two-and-a-half goals punters fairly frequently this season – but one expects Klopp to fight fire with fire on his return to Dortmund because his side’s defence is unlikely to hold out BVB for 90 minutes.

Tips Summary

Villarreal to beat Sparta Praha
Thursday 7th April, 20:05 GMT
Odds:  -175

Braga to beat Shakhtar Donetsk
Thursday 7th April, 20:05 GMT
Odds:  +162

Borussia Dortmund v Liverpool – Over 2.5 Goals
Thursday 7th April, 20:05 GMT
Odds:  -118

Borussia Dortmund
UEFA Europa League

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