Playoff second round rematches of the UEFA Europa League will be played during the week and we’re all looking forward to find out the names of the squads that will join the likes of Arsenal, Lyon, and Lazio in the group stage of this competition.
Ostersunds (Swe) vs. PAOK (Gre)
Three-Way: 1: Ostersunds +210; X: +245 Draw; 2: PAOK +160
Spread 0: Ostersunds +122; PAOK -123
Total +2.5: Over +125; Under -115
The Svenska Cupen winners fell short to a superior side as they lost 3:1 in the first leg of the play-off round. Ostersunds have done well to get to this stage, the furthest in their history, but were ultimately undone as was expected and found it difficult, having just one shot on target. However, the Swedish side did score the all-important away goal through a penalty scored by Brwa Hekmat Nouri, and have given themselves a small chance of progression.
During the offseason, Ostersunds has signed four players, while one has left on loan. Manager Graham Potter will have a full squad selection for Thursday’s game.
As expected, PAOK won comfortably in the first leg with a 3:1 scoreline over their opponents. Their comfortability can be proved through the game’s statistics, with 60% possession, thirteen shots to Ostersunds’s two and their three goals, including two from striker Aleksandar Prijovic who has scored 12 goals in 23 appearances since joining in the last transfer window. PAOK fans will be expecting further progress due to having qualified for the Europa League every season since the 2012-13 season, and have put themselves in a good position to do so.
During the summer PAOK has signed six players, while twenty-one men have left the team. Manager Razvan Lucescu will be without winger Giannis Mystakidis and Panagiotis Glykos for his selection, as both have Cruciate Ligament Ruptures.
Ostersunds(Swe) vs. PAOK (Gre) – Match Prediction:
There was little evidence in the last leg for Ostersunds being able to produce the result they require. I would predict another simple win for PAOK.
MY PICK: PAOK to Win (+160)
Salzburg (Aut) vs.FC Viitorul (Rou)
Three-Way: 1: Salzburg -357; X: +590 Draw; 2: FC Viitorul +1600
Spread-2: Salzburg +122; FC Viitorul -128
Total +3: Over -108; Under -102
Three first half goals saw Salzburg take a huge advantage home after they beat their opponents 3:1 in the first leg of the Europa League playoff round. The Austrian champions scored three times through Hee-Chan Hwang, Munas Dabbur, and Hannes Wolf all before the half-time whistle, but slowed down in the second half as they couldn’t add another despite a host of chances. Salzburg is in great form currently, as they are unbeaten in twelve games and stand 2nd in their domestic league.
During the offseason, Salzburg has signed four players, while seven have left, including midfielder Konrad Laimer to RB Leipzig 6.9 million Euros. Manager Marco Rose will be missing Samuel Tetteh (meniscus), David Atanga (foot), Takumi Minamino (intra-articular ligament fissure) and Stefan Stangl (strain) through injury.
The Romanian champions had a tough night as they lost 3:1 to a superior side in RB Salzburg. Despite going down after two minutes, Viitorul managed to equalize five minutes later through George Tucudean but were ultimately beaten by a better side. Further woes for the Romanian side is their recent form, having failed to win each of their last seven games. In addition, FC Viitorul have never qualified for European competition, with this season being their second chance at qualification.
During the offseason, FC Viitorul has signed four players, while thirteen men have left the team. Manager Gheorghe Hagi will have a full squad roster for selection other than Carlo Casap who received cruciate ligament surgery.
Salzburg (Aut) vs. FC Viitorul (Rou) – Match Prediction:
Considering form, pedigree and the last leg, it’s difficult to see anything but a convincing win for Salzburg. Furthermore, Viitorul has more than this tie to worry about, such as relegation in their domestic league if their form doesn’t improve.
I would suggest betting on a big win for Salzburg.
MY PICK: Salzburg -2 AH (+122)
Fenerbahce (Tur) vs. Vardar (Mac)
Three-Way: 1: Fenerbahce -526; X: +900 Draw; 2: Vardar +3500
Spread -2.5: Fenerbahce +114; Vardar -112
Total +3: Over -133; Under +124
A shock 2:0 loss to opponents Vardar is a cause for embarrassment for the 19-times Turkish Super League winners, although the result was a little unfair. A 20th-minute goal for their opponents was their only real chance as they failed to register a shot on target, whereas Fenerbahce had eight on target and a mammoth 73% of possession. The game ended dramatically as the last few minutes produced a red card for each side and an own-goal from Mehmet Topal. Fenerbahce has qualified for the Europa League for the last two seasons, making the knockout rounds in each campaign, therefore they will be expected to overturn the deficit.
Eight have come in for the Turkish side, including centre-forward Roberto Soldado from Villarreal and Mathieu Valbuena from Olympique Lyon, while seven have left. Manager Aykut Kocaman will be missing UygarZeybeck (Cruciate Ligament Rupture), Fernandao (Ulnar) and Yigithan Guveli (Cruciate Ligament) all through injury, and Souza will be out through a red card suspension.
Vardar registered a heroic 2:0 win in front of their home crowd and will be dreaming of holding on to their lead to qualify for the Europa League proper. The Macedonian heroes scored first in the 20th minute Tigran Barseghyan and held on for the remainder of the game, as well as adding a second after a Fenerbahce own goal, completing the win with barely a chance at goal nor any long spell of possession. Going one step further and qualifying would mean the first time that the Macedonian champions have qualified for a European competition.
Vardar’s summer has seen two new arrivals, while five have left including central-forward Jonathan Balotelli to Al-Gharafa. Manager Goce Sedloski will be without Boban Grncarov through suspension.
Fenerbahce (Tur) vs. Vardar (Mac) – Match Prediction:
It’s a tough ask for anyone to overturn a two-goal deficit at this stage of the Europa League, but a team of Fenerbahce’s caliber should be more than capable. I still find it difficult to comprehend Vardar progressing, even though it would be an incredible feat.
Despite the heroics, Fenerbahce was unlucky to come away with such a poor result and I believe they’ll get what they deserve through sheer attack, which will prove to be too much for their opponents.
MY PICK: Fenerbahce -2.5 AH (+114)
Suduva(Ltu) vs. Ludogorets (Bul)
Three-Way: 1: Suduva +600; X: +355 Draw; 2: Ludogorets -161
Spread +1: Suduva -102; Ludogorets -105
Total +2.5: Over -137; Under +125
Suduva were fortunate to come away from their Europa League play-offs first leg in one piece as they lost 2:0 to superior opposition. During the game, the Lithuanian side failed to shoot on target once, and also only retained 25% possession as they were under their opponents thumb for large parts of the game. Unfortunately for the two-times Lithuanian Cup winners, this round looks like one too far, although they should take pride in their performance over the campaign as this is the first time that they have reached this stage of the competition.
During the offseason, Suduva has signed three players, while five have left or pastures new. Manager Vladimir Cherubin will have a full squad selection for Thursday’s game.
The Bulgarian champions fulfilled expectations in a game that the scoreline could have been more convincing, as they beat their opponents 2:0. Ludogorets may have hoped for more goals with fifteen shots to their opponents three and 75% possession, but have still given themselves a clear advantage after goals by Cosmin Iosif Moti and Virgil Misidjan. Last season, Ludogorets qualified for the Champions League, so fans will expect qualification as a minimum.
During the offseason, Ludogorets have signed two players, while eight men have left the team, including winger Jonathan Cafu to Bordeaux for 7.5 million Euros. Manager Georgi Dermendzhiev will be without keeper Vladislav Stoyanov through a Patella rupture while attacking-midfielder Marcelinho and centre-back Cosmin Moti will be out through card suspensions.
Suduva (Ltu) vs. Ludogorets (Bul) – Match Prediction:
The first leg showed the gulf in class between these two sides and I would fully expect a repeat. In addition, Ludogorets recent history in European competition is far more impressive than Suduva’s.
I would suggest going for another similar win for Ludogorets to their last leg.
MY PICK: Ludogorets -1 AH (-105)
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