Europa League - Spread Betting Preview 14th Feb
Europa League Round of 32: First Leg Preview
Europa League action resumes with three clubs still flying the flag for Britain. Chelsea, Arsenal and Celtic have all won European honours before, but with the London clubs still fighting it out to finish in the top four of the Premier League, just how much can we realistically expect from them?
BATE v Arsenal
Despite being domestic champions for the last thirteen seasons, anywhere beyond the Europa League's round of 32 is alien territory for BATE. Since August 2016, BATE have won just two of their last eleven Europa League home fixtures, and with the Belarusians improving on a half-time home result in Europe just once in that same period, it is more of a question of when – not if – Arsenal’s superior stamina shows.
As a club, Arsenal’s Europa League record against teams from leagues currently ranked below the Premier League (in the UEFA members rankings) gives reason for encouragement. Of the last eight games in that category, Arsenal have won six, and lost only to Bundesliga opposition. In a statistic that could see this fixture given a lot of attention in the Total Aggregates spread, those eight matches have also seen the Gunners (on average) win by a 16-4 aggregate scoreline – meaning that the Gunners have outscored opposition deemed inferior to them on a 4:1 ratio.
Arsenal also netted a brace of victories over BATE last season, with the two group stage games yielding a 10-2 aggregate scoreline in favour of the Gunners. That result saw BATE’s record against English clubs move to a damning ‘won one, lost five’, and with Arsenal holding every conceivable advantage before this tie, the reappearance of youthful talent is inevitable.
The travelling contingent of Gunners are likely to see Ainsley Maitland-Niles make another appearance in Unai Emery’s starting XI. The youngster played every minute of last season’s games against BATE, and with Maitland-Niles since opening his account (albeit in a 5-1 defeat at Anfield), he will be playing with more confidence than ever in what is practically a no-lose situation.
Malmö v Chelsea
Despite missing out on a perfect return in the group stage, sixteen points from a Chelsea side that was through with two games to spare is a telling statistic. With Chelsea losing every away match so far in 2019, and conceding thirteen times without reply, Maurizio Sarri’s men know that they must prove themselves worthy of their lofty standing in the Europa League Outright Index.
Even though Chelsea are expected to take a sizeable lead back to Stamford Bridge, previous scorelines may suggest otherwise. With all of Chelsea’s Europa League away games to date being settled by a one-goal margin, a 1-0 win for a Chelsea side that will also accommodate several squad players seems about par for expectations.
Malmö themselves are facing Chelsea on the back of their pre-season preparations for the upcoming Allsvenskan season. After losing 2-0 at Genk in a difficult group stage opener, Malmö never looked back, winning 2-0 twice either side of a three-match drawing run. Both wins came after goalless first halves, implying that Chelsea will need to be patient in order to get their expected breakthrough.
Celtic v Valencia
In the decade since Europe’s secondary club competition became the newly-expanded Europa League, Spanish teams have dominated the competition. For that reason – along with the disparity between the clubs in terms of performances on the European stage – Celtic have undoubtedly drawn the short straw.
In a damning statistic, Celtic have lost seven competitive games to Spanish opponents 21-2 on aggregate since the start of the 2010s. Nonetheless, the Bhoys will be disappointed if they do not breach the Valencia backline at least once on home soil, having scored in all but one of their group games.
Additionally – though it is a belief strictly based on group stage trends – first and final fifteen minutes of play may well see Celtic produce their most threatening football, as all but one of their group stage goals arrived in that time zone.
For their part, Valencia fell short of progression to the Champions League knockout stage by just two points. Taking four points from Manchester United, and getting to within thirty minutes of a point and a clean sheet at Juventus, Valencia bowed out more than respectfully.
That said, Valencia have been none too clever on the road in La Liga recently, winning just one of their last five La Liga away games. By all accounts, they are also somewhat fatigued after a hectic post-winter domestic schedule.
On the flipside though, Valencia have failed to score in just one La Liga away game since November, and with that in mind Celtic will have to be at their very best defensively to keep them out.
Lazio v Sevilla
Both clubs are flying high in their respective leagues, and with a league title out of realistic grasping range for Lazio and Sevilla, the lack of distractions should ensure an entertaining inaugural competitive meeting between the clubs.
To date, only two clubs have played more Europa League football than Lazio, but they will need to rediscover their defensive mastery in the competition, having lost their last two group games. During the group stage, Lazio also conceded at least once in each of their matches, and with Lazio’s last seven European home games seeing both teams score, the away goals rule could eventually be their undoing in an evenly-matched tie such as this.
Against any other opposition, Lazio would be favourites to qualify. However, Sevilla are past masters of this competition, even though a return of two defeats from three away games in the group stage gives the neutral fan a real reason to doubt them.
The fact that Pablo Machín’s men managed just four away goals in a relatively easy group further underlines the doubts surrounding Sevilla, but it will take a lot to see the Spanish giants lose their status as marginal favourites to negotiate this tie overall. They also have a real talisman in the form of Wissam Ben Yedder, who has nineteen goals in all competitions this season, including six in this tournament.
Will these ties live up to expectations, or will there be drama elsewhere? Take a look at the latest Europa League football spread betting markets for all of this week’s first leg ties!