Three tips from tonight’s Europa League action…
Shakter Karagandy v Maccabi Haifa (5pm)
The earliest of the three tips today comes from Kazhakstan where the side that so nearly knocked Celtic out of the Champions League host Maccabi Haifa from Isreal. Neither side come in to this game with much form, having both lost their opening group game, and struggling domestically too. Maccabi Haifa haven’t won in 6 weeks, and the same can be said for their hosts. However, Shakter have lost once in their last ten home games, managing an impressive 8 wins and 7 clean sheets in the process, so the visitors are in for a very tough tie. The line is skewed here in my opinion, which is something we can take advantage of…
This fixture is between a side with strong home form at home, playing a poor away side playing away from home. A draw isn’t out of the question as Haifa may look to grab a point on the road and look to win their 2 remaining home fixtures. Karagandy know that home games are their main chance to grab some much needed points and stake a claim in this group. Anything but a win for them here today will put a lot of pressure on their remaining fixtures. They almost qualified for the UCL, so not qualifying for the knock-out stages of the second tier European competition would be classed as a failure.
Players to watch for the home side include Finonchenko and Khizhninchenko who scored in their 2-0 victory against Celtic a few weeks ago…
Sevilla v Freiburg (6pm)
Even with a full strength side at the weekend, the quality of Dortmund tore Freiburg to shreds. They offered very little and were subject to an onslaught for the majority of the game, conceding clear cut opportunities far too easily. Sevilla have had a tough start to the season too, but have actually lost just three games in their last 12 competitive fixtures (defeats at Atletico, Valencia and Barcelona). They have shown they can score, highlighted by their latest home game where they smashed 4 past Rayo Vallecano. Having won their opening Europa group stage tie away at Estoril, they konw that 3 wins from 3 at home will be enough.
Today the will start with a strong line-up and will look to attack from the outset. Don’t be surprised to see them take an early lead as Freiburg will look to absorb pressure and counter. There is a gulf in class between these two sides, and with Freiburg showing defensive frailties all season so far, a clear home win is certainly on the cards and offers good value.
Ludogorets v Dinamo Zagreb (8:05pm)
Away at PSV in their previous fixture, no one gave them a chance, yet they managed a comfortable 2-0 win and got their Europa League campaign off to a flyer. They have won 4 of their last 5 games, and have managed 4 clean sheets too, so it will be tough for the away side. In fact, they are unbeaten in 24 home games in the league and just once in their last 20 in all competitions (at home to FC Basel in a UCL qualifier). This is a tough place to visit, obviously, and Dinamo will be under pressure to get something having lost 2-1 at home to minnows Chornomorets.
Both sides are top of their domestic leagues, and Ludogorets’ home form boasts 4 wins and a draw, scoring 11 and yet to concede. There is real value on the home side here to get all three points.
Shakter Karagandy v Maccabi Haifa – Shakter +0.25 (2.05 – 188bet)
Sevilla v Freiburg – Sevilla -1.50 (2.20 – Winner)
Ludogorets v Dinamo Zagreb – Ludogorets -0.25 (1.89 – BetVictor)