Europa League Tips: All Stats Lead To Roma
Liam gives his tips for the Europa League quarterfinal second legs where there is a lot left to play for and plenty of value on offer.
Slavia Prague (1) v Arsenal (1) – Thursday 15 April 20:00 BST
The Gunners were in complete control against Prague in first leg but failed to take their chances. Had they been slightly more clinical in front of goal this tie could have been put to bed before half time. However, as things stand, its advantage Prague, courtesy of a 94th minute equaliser.
The Czech champions arrived at the Emirates with a negative game plan, clearly intent on getting themselves back to Prague with the tie still alive. They rarely threatened the Arsenal goal, visibly prioritising defensive shape over risk-taking in the final third. That plan did not really work, as Arsenal created chance after chance, but wastefulness up front kept Prague in contention.
I can see an open game as both sides will fancy their chances. Arsenal have not lost away in Europe in over two years and seem to save their best performances for cup competitions. Slavia will be hugely confident. They have not lost at home in 34 games, and haven’t tasted defeat in the Czech Republic in over 50 outings. Familiar names such as Rangers, Leicester, Nice, Bayern Leverkusen and Seville have all struggled here in recent seasons.
Arsenal cannot be as wasteful in front of goal again. If Slavia come out of their shell and take the Gunners on I can see them conceding a few. Arsenal to win and BTTS @ 11/4 looks like the most likely outcome.
Roma (2) v Ajax (1) – Thursday 15 April 20:00 BST
Ajax looked to be in control of this tie up until the 53rd min. Already one goal to the good, Dusan Tadic stepped up to the penalty spot in an attempt to double their lead and duly missed. Roma then scored less than five minutes later and Roger Ibanez netted a 83rd min winner turning the tie on its head.
Roma have only lost three of their last 26 home games and are deservedly odds on to qualify. What is surprising is their price to win on the night. Although Roma are winless against Italy’s top sides (W0, D3, L6), they have been utterly dominant against the teams beneath them (W16, D2, L2). With solid home form to boot, a win here seems well within their reach. Roma to win @ 9/5 is the pick.
Manchester United (2) v Granada (0)- Thursday 15 April 20:00 BST
It is hard to see a way back here for Granada. They were not terrible against United in the first leg but there is something not quite right about Diego Martínez’s side at the moment. They have lost four of their last five games, the only win coming against struggling Valladolid. On the road they are even worse, and have only won once in seven matches.
With some momentum building at Old Trafford I expect Solskjaer to pick a strong side and progress with ease. However, United are slow starters. No team has been drawing more games at half time in the Premier League than Man United this season. A draw at halftime and United to win @ 3/1 is a generous price and is the pick.
Villarreal (1) v Dinamo Zagreb (0) – Thursday 15 April 20:00 BST
Despite the low score-line, the first leg was surprisingly open. There were more than 25 shots in that game and only some inspired goalkeeping kept the goals to a minimum. In fact, no fixture in the knockout stages of this competition has seen more than the 9 saves produced last week. Both teams are confident in front of goal and it is unlikely that we will see the same goalkeeping heroics. Villarreal have scored in every Europa League game this season and Zagreb score more than two goals per game on average. With the tie finely balanced I expect another open game. Over 2.5 goals @ 21/20 is too good to pass up on.
Arsenal to Win and BTTS @ 11/4
Roma to Win @ 9/5
Draw HT/Man United FT @ 3/1
Villarreal v Zagreb Over 2.5 Goals @ 21/20