Wed, Feb 14, 9:58am by Staff Writer
Europe’s second tier competition recommences this week with not only silverware on offer, but the winner receives entry to next season’s Champions League. Last year Manchester United made the most of this, securing a spot in the elite tournament despite the fact they finished sixth in the EPL – they won the Europa League. Several top sides now line up in the Europa League Round of 32 hoping to do the same.
Ostersunds v Arsenal, Friday 16th February 2018, 5am (AEDT)
Arsenal are one side who will pinning all their hopes in the Europa League. With the club out of the FA Cup at the early stages and well off the pace in the EPL, they need a boost. A win in the Europa League must be a major target for Arsene Wenger and his men. They prepared for this game with a loss away to Spurs but produced enough chances to show that their attack is starting to gel. Although, new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will not be in action due to already having played in the Europa League this season with Borussia Dortmund. They stand at $1.45 to win this match and a $1.06 to progress to the next Round.
Ostersunds will not be a familiar name to many football fans but they did finish joint top of their Europa League Group with Athletic Bilbao. The Swedes will be relying on the weather and their artificial pitch to give them a boost in this first leg. If they can secure a favourable result at home, then they are more than capable of snatching something at the Emirates. They are priced at $6.50 for the game and $8 to qualify.
Bet of the Match – 1-1 Draw at $7.50
Celtic v Zenit St Petersburg, Friday 16th February 2018, 7.05am (AEDT)
Scottish Champions Celtic have dropped into the Europa League after securing a third place finish in their Champions League group. Knockout European football has been rare in recent years for a prestigious club such as Celtic. They are once again flying domestically, eight points clear at the top of the league, but they need to start making an impact in Europe.
This game is extremely tough to call with Celtic priced at $2.63 and Zenit at $2.60. Zenit, however, have the edge over the tie standing at $1.50 to progress compared to $2.44.
The Russians will have the advantage of the second leg at home, but they have not played a competitive game since mid-December. A long winter break may leave them at a disadvantage for the first leg at least. They cruised through their group stage winning five with a solitary draw. Under the guidance of the experienced Roberto Mancini, they should have enough to beat Celtic over two legs.
Bet of the Match – Celtic to Win 2-1 at $8.50
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