The Europa League tonight. I have dismissed this competition in the past. Too many also-ran teams we know little about playing other also-rans teams we know little about from peripheral leagues which are not the most reliable. I mean, look at the first match, Astana v Slavia Prague! How on earth do we decipher this match? That said, the Europa League has produced a profitable live chat or two if we rely on in-play stats and focus on the right matches (Ath Bilbao and Arsenal for instance). My research will begin with the obvious favourites, and time permitting, then move to less clearer matches. I will shortlist on Facebook those matches below which grab my attention. There are so many "unfathomables" today.
16:00 - FC Astana v Slavia Prague - 2.58 FC Astana
- Astana lost 3-1 to Villareal in their opener. Slavia Prague beat Maccabi Tel Aviv in theirs.
- A match for inplay stats only.
18:00 - Athletic Bilbao v Zorya - 1.22 Ath Bilbao
- This is a Group J match. So far Bilbao have a draw and Zorya a defeat.
- 7 defeats and 2 1-1 draws for Zorya in their last 9 Europa League matches suggests that this Ukrainian side are out of their depth.
- They scored 0-0-1-0-0-0 and are on a run of 3 consecutive 2-0 matches in recent Europa League encounters.
- Only 1 loss in 10 matches for Ath Bilbao suggests they do have an interest in this competition. Bigger names, such as Manchester United, have fielded weakened sides in the competition, making it hard to trust them.
- 3 clean sheets in 4 matches and a battling 2-3 away win v Panathanaikos for Ath Bilbao suggests they will give it a go.
- Only 1 loss in 14 at home and 6 consecutive wins for Ath Bilbao suggests they are up for the Europa League. Their loss was v fellow Spaniards Sevilla.
- The first thing to do with big names is to try and find out if they are up for the Europa League. It seems that Ath. Bilbao are so faith in them today. Zorya are finding it hard to even score a goal so we should expect a win to nil for the home side.
18:00 - BATE Borisov v Arsenal - 1.53 Arsenal
- BATE are the dominant force in Belarus and a sometime Champions League contender.
- Only 1 win in 11 Europa League matches suggests struggles against better European opponents. 3 score draws in 4 unbeaten matches suggests BATE should be layable if scoring first.
- 4 consecutive home draws for BATE albeit stretching back to 2012.
- 4 wins and a 0-0 v Chelsea now for Arsenal after their tonking v Liverpool.
- Noticeably, Arsenal kept 4 clean sheets in that run.
- A 3-1 opening win v Koln is very encouraging for Arsenal. There is no europa league form other than that.
- I must say it is a tentative quote for the Arse from the market. 1.53 odds.
- We should expect a best case score draw from BATE Borisov today. Arsenal really should be dominating this Group H.
18:00 - FC Koln v Crvena Zvezda - 1.72 FC Koln
- 6 losses and a draw for FC Koln in all competitions sees them in poor form and scoring 0-1-0-1-0-1-0.
- Koln are new to the Europa League and lost 3-1 to Arsenal.
- Only 1 loss in 10 matches for Crvena (who we'll call Red Star) in the Europa League.
- Not a match which greatly interests me. FC Koln are in poor form.
18:00 - Konyaspor v Guimaraes - 2.14 Konyaspor
- Konyaspor have not won a match in the Europa League, seeing 6 losses and a draw. Konyaspor failed to score in 5 matches.
- Konyaspor's last 2 losses were 1-0, latterly v Marseille.
- Guimaraes, from Portugal, have not won in 8 matches. They were in the Europa League 2013, 2015 and 2017.
- Guimaraes have scored and conceded last 4 Europa League matches.
- These 2 sides are not leading lights in their prospective leagues and don't have a win between them in umpteen Europa League matches. Not for me thanks.
18:00 - Lazio v Zulte-Waregem - 1.26 Lazio
- Italian Seria A v Belgian Pro League. You would expect that the Italians have clear advantage coming from the more competitive league.
- 10 wins, a draw and a loss for Lazio last 12 matches did include some friendlies but still it is a good run.They were only beaten by Napoli.
- Lazio have scored and conceded in 11 of their last 12 Europa League matches which does suggest that they may field a second string squad. I am not 100% sure on that.
- A 0-3 loss to Sparta Prague at home last year was something of a shock.
- That makes 5 consecutive home matches with one team scoring 3 goals (the other 4 matches saw Lazio as the 3 goal scorers).
- Zulte have a reputation for goal laden matches in Belgium. Prior to a 0-1 win last match, there were matches with total goals of 4-3-5-2-3-4-5-4-6-3-5 goals.
- The goals keep-a-comin' in the Europa League.4-4-1-3-2-3-4-7-4-6 goals in total in recent Europa League matches stretching back to 2013.
- A 1-5 tonking by Nice is the most recent scoreline.
- You fear for Zulte this evening if Lazio consent to score 3 goals again at home, and that is a possibility given Zulte's reputation for goal laden matches.
- It goes without saying that this match is a great candidate if 0-0 at halftime, for said 0-0 to end!
18:00 - Lugano v FCSB - 2.28 FCSB
- A wide open group G by the sounds of it.
- Swiss side Lugano take on Romanians Steaua Bucharest.
- Lugano were last in this competition in 2002. The lost 2-1 to Hapoel Be'er Shiva in their opener.
- Steaua Bucharest beat Plzen 3-0 at home in their opener.
- Another unfathomable for the collection.
- Only 1 win in 10 for Steaua away in the Europa League but meeting a Lugano without an appearance in 15 years.
18:00 - Nice v Vitesse - 1.49 Nice
- 3 wins and a 2-2 for Nice in their last 4 matches.
- No draw for Nice in the Europa League.
- Nice have beaten Krasnador and Zulte in the Europa League lately.
- Nice and Lazio are the only teams in Group K to win.
- Vitesse are a lesser known Dutch side coming into this match off the back of an away win v Ajax.
- Going back to 2012, they have 6 losses and a draw in their last 7 Europa League matches.
- This is a typically tough to call Europa League match. Can we rely on Nice avoiding yet another draw in this competition?
- Vitesse led twice at home to Lazio before losing 2-3 so they have something to them.
- The market sides with the French home side but they could be made to work. Vitesse though have had a poor record away in the Europa League.
18:00 - Ostersunds FK v Hertha Berlin - 2.36 Hertha Berlin
- 5 wins, a draw and a loss for Ostersunds in their last 7 Europa League matches.
- A 0-0 for Hertha v Ath Bilbao.
- Hertha lost away v benfica and Brondby quite convincingly in this competition.
- This is one of the last matches I have researched and makes no appeal.
18:00 - Plzen v Hapoel Beer Sheva - 2.08 Plzen
- Plzen are slight favourites here. Only 2 wins in 14 Europa League matches came at home v Austria Vienna and AEK Larnaca.
- Plzen have scored and conceded in their last 6 home matches.
- Hapoel come from the Champions League. They too have scored and conceded in their last 5 matches. Their 2-1 win v Lugano was less than impressive. Their 2nd goal was a penalty and they scored Lugano's goal!
- Hapoel's superb results against Inter Milan and Southampton in this competition last year suggests they have something about them.
- Inbetween those solid performances v Inter and Saints, Hapoel lost to Czech side Sparta Prague and Besiktas.
- I do feel Hapoel will score today but how to engineer that into a trading angle? I'm not so sure.
- With a both teams to score pattern from both sides, backing 2-1 and 1-2 is my usual tactic here. I trade out if lucky enough to see 1-1 (both teams scoring).
18:00 - Red Bull Salzburg v Marseille - 2.5 Red Bull
- Marseille are favourites in this Group I to go through.
- Salzburg are unbeaten in 6 Europa League matches. 3 wins in 4 matches. In this group, a 1-1 v Guimaraes.
- 2-0 v Schalke and 4-0 v Viitorul for Red Bull in their last 2 at home.
- Only 1 loss in 10 europa league matches for Marseiile.
- 3 clean sheets in 4 matches for Marseille.
- 3 consecutive draws away for Marseille in the Europa League.
- An interesting match in which the market cannot split the sides, neither can I.
18:00 - Rosenborg v Vardar Skopje - 1.51 Rosenborg
- Rosenborg will be delighted to be here, having bucked the market and beaten Ajax to get here.
- Those 2 wins v Ajax were the only wins in 12 matches in the Europa League for Rosenborg. This suggests an under par Ajax rather than an improving Rosenborg.
- Only 1 win in 6 home matches for Rosenborg was that 3-2 win v Ajax It was a great trading match if you sided with Ajax
- Vardar are a Macedonian side. Let me ask you. When, if ever, will a Norwegian side meet a Macedonian side and how on earth do we gauge their relative strengths and weaknesses. The 1.51 odds for Rosenborg therefore are a big Kim Kardasian-like fat-arsed guess!
- Vardar show a similar pattern in the Europa League to Rosenborg. They tend to get beaten but suddenly beat a decent Fenerbahce outfit home and away. A 0-5 loss to Zenit in this group tells us Vardar will not be qualifying. Sociedad and Zenit will be too much for them. But what of Rosenborg?
- I think (and this is a guess!) that Rosenborg's odds are too short to back. I would lay Rosenborg if Rosenborg scored first. Why? Well, Vardar conceded first away at Fenerbahce then won the match 1-2!
18:00 - Zenit St Petersburg v Sociedad - 2.24 Zenit
- A 3 year absence from the Europa League for Sociedad.
- Sociedad and Zenit both won their openers and are likely to dominate this Group L.
- This makes this clash tough to call therefore. The result is likely to determine 1st and 2nd.
- Comprehensive wins for both in their openers.
20:05 - AC Milan v Rijeka - 1.28 AC Milan
- Italian Seria A v Croatia.
- Milan have conceded only 1 goal in their last 5 Europa League wins. That was when they were 1-5 up.
- 2-0 and 6-0 at home for AC Milan.
- This Group D is a weak group for AC Milan and for me, Austria Vienna could be the main rivals.
- No win in 6 Europa League matches since 2014 for Rijeka suggests they are out of their depth outside of Croatia.
- AC Milan have been dominant so far in the Europa League, albeit they play weaker opponents earlier in the competition.
- I expect an easy night for AC Milan. Rijeka scored 0-0-0-2-0 in their last 5 away Europa League matches.
20:05 - AEK Athens v Austria Vienna - 1.6 AEK Athens
- 7 wins and a 0-0 in their last 8 matches sees AEK in good nick in all competitions. Group D is likely to see AC Milan dominate. 2nd place is up for grabs.
- AEK beat Rijeka 1-2 in their opener.
- Austria Vienna tend to look out of their depth in this competition. Only 2 wins in 10 matches.
- They lost 1-5 to AC Milan.
- Another match tough to quantify so a case of faith in the market.
20:05 - Braga v Basaksehir - 2.4 Braga
- 2 teams who may surprise. A tough group C so this kind of match will be key.
- Braga are unbeaten in their 2017 campaign.They have scored and conceded in the 5 matches.
- A 1-2 away win v Hoffenheim is a shot across the bow.
- Basaksehir are the new kids on the block in Turkey. 0-0 v Ludogorets was poor.
- I would tentatively side with Braga tonight in another match between 2 teams likely to be vying for qualification in a group C also including Hoffenheim.
20:05 - Everton v Apollon Limassol - 1.32 Everton
- After a poor run domestically, Everton won their last 2 home domestic matches.
- Group E should see Atalanta and Lyon as Everton's main rivals for qualification.
- Everton were soundly beaten away to Atalanta and, like Tottenham yesterday, this match becomes a must win IF Everton want to progress in this competition.
- 7 wins in 8 at home for Everton.
- Apollon have scored and conceded in 10 of 11 matches in all competitions, with 4 1-1 draws in 5 matches.
- A 1-1 draw with Lyon suggests Apollon will go defensive tonight and hope to frustrate.
- Apollon beat Aberdeen at home and lost 2-1 away to Aberdeen. That is the closest thing I can come to to gauge Everton against.
- Mirallas was on the subs bench last Europa League match for Everton. I personally remain unconvinced about them up front. Rooney is collecting his retirement fund. Calvert-Lewin may be too inexperienced for European competition.
- It would not surprise me were this to go the way of the Man City match in the Champions League. A 0-0 at halftime and a possible 1-0 or 2-0 IF Everton play a strong side.
20:05 - Lokomotiv v Zlin - 1.33 Lokomotiv
- Zlin are a Czech side.Lokomotiv are Lokomotiv Moscow.
- Group F contains 4 teams I know little about.
- 0-0 for Lokomotiv in their away match v Copenhagen.
- Zlin drew 0-0 with Sheriff.
- The market is confident that Lokomotiv Moscow will dominate and win but I know little about Lokomotiv or Zlin.
20:05 - Ludogorets v Hoffenheim - 1.91 Hoffenheim
- Group C looks tough with these 2 and Basaksehir and Braga.
- Hoff for me are the better side.
- 2 consecutive 0-0's for Ludogorets in the Europa League. This is a sequence which should end.
- Hoff scored first against Braga but lost 1-2.
- I would look at the 0-0 angle and look for it to end.
20:05 - Lyon v Atalanta - 1.99 Lyon
- Only 1 win in 6 but then only 1 loss in 6 for Lyon tells you that they have a case of draw-itis.
- Only 2 defeats in 10 Europa League matches came away at Roma and Ajax. Lyon seem to be up for this competition.
- Atalanta finished 4th last season. They have only lost to the cream of Italian football recently.
- Newcomers to the Europa League Atalanta beat Everton 3-0 at home. That is quite a marker suggesting that they will be competitive today.
- Of course, conjecture as they are new to the competition and have no away form.
- I would expect a competitive match today and would watch out for an Atalanta goal.
20:05 - Maccabi Tel Aviv v Villarreal - 2.1 Villareal
- Maccabi lost 1-0 away to Slavia Prague.Villareal beat Astana 3-1 in their opener.
- Villareal scored in their last 4 away Europa League matches, score drawing 3 matches.
- Maccabi are unbeaten in 6 Europa League matches but have yet to play a team from an elite league.
- Another match I have no angles into.
20:05 - Partizan Belgrade v Dynamo Kiev - 2.12 Dynamo Kiev
- A 1-1 v Young Boys for Partizan and a 3-1 home win for Dynamo Kiev v Skenderbeu.
- 2 consecutive home 0-0's for Partizan in the Europa League is a sequence we can hope to end.
- That is the only angle really for me today.
20:05 - Sheriff Tiraspol v FC Copenhagen - 2.4 FC Copenhagen
- 3 0-0's in 4 matches for Sheriff in the Europa League. This 0-0 sequence really should end (2 matches currently).
- Copenhagen too had a 0-0 v lokomotiv Moscow.
- Hmm. Next please!
- You could take a chance and lay the late 0-0.
20:05 - Skenderbeu v Young Boys - 1.73 Young Boys
- A Group B I cannot fathom. A mish mash of teams throughout Europe. Tonight sees Albania v Switzerland and we simply know nothing about the home side.
- Young Boys I know well from Switzerland where they have a reputation for goals.
- Skenderbeu scored first away v Dynamo Kiev and lost 3-1.
- Young Boys drew 1-1 with Partizan.
- Not a match I can get any strong angles into. In-play stats may reveal the Young Boys mood today.