The 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.
AEK Larnaca (Cyp) vs. Plzen (Cze)
Three-Way: 1: AEK Larnaca +129; X: +245 Draw; 2: Plzen +260
Spread -0.5: AEK Larnaca +124; Plzen -132
Total +2.5: Over +116; Under -127
The Cypriot side has not made things easy for themselves for the second leg, as they trail 3:1 on aggregate after the first leg. AEK Larnaca settled themselves in the game quickly as they scored after just 8 minutes, but were overturned by three Plzen goals to complicate matters.
Saying that the Cypriot Championship runner-up was unlucky not to score more goals as they managed nine shots on target, but were not clinical enough. Still, with one away goal, they have a slight chance of making it through to the group stage for the second time in their history.
AEK Larnaca’s summer has seen a large number of in and out-goings with a total of fifteen new arrivals and seventeen departures. Manager Imanol Idiakez will be without keeper Ruben Miño through injury, but will otherwise have a full squad.
A 3:1 win has put Viktoria Plzen in pole position for qualifying into the group stage of the Europa League, which would mean the third consecutive time of qualifying for the Europa League group stage. The four-times Czech champions threatened throughout the game, with two goals coming from veteran striker Marek Bakos and another from midfielder Daniel Kolar. Additionally, the Czech side has an excellent record of qualifying for the Europe, having qualified in five of the last six seasons, therefore not qualifying would be a disappointment and a surprise.
During the offseason, Plzen signed six players, including central-midfielder Ales Cermak from Sparta Praha for 1 million Euros, while eight players left the team. Manager Pavel Vrba will be without centre-back Marian Cisovsky through a virus infection, while Michael Krmencik is still suspended after being sent off against Steaua Bucuresti in their third Europa League qualifying round second leg.
AEK Larnaca (Cyp) vs. Plzen (Cze) – Match Prediction:
I think we will see more from AEK Larnaca in the second leg, considering that they were unlucky in the last leg, plus they will be chasing the game and will have the home advantage.
Therefore, this could turn out to be a very open contest, so expect a lot of goals. I am taking the over 2.5 goals.
MY PICK: Over 2.5 goals (+116)
Oleksandriya (Ukr) vs. BATE (Blr)
Three-Way: 1: Oleksandriya +140; X: +227 Draw; 2: BATE +269
Spread -0.5: Oleksandriya +127; BATE -139
Total +2: Over -120; Under +108
Oleksandriya achieved a fantastic result as they drew 1:1 away to BATE in a closely-fought game. A 19th minute equalizing goal from midfielder Evgeniy Banada means that the Ukrainian side has the slight advantage over their opponents going into their home leg, which would spell the first time Oleksandriya have ever qualified for European competition. Therefore, winning this tie would send their fans into pandemonium.
During the offseason, Oleksandriya has signed seven players, while nine have left. Manager Volodymyr Sharan will have a full squad selection.
The thirteen-time Belarusian champions threw away the chance to put daylight between themselves and their opponents, and have instead left themselves at a disadvantage. An early goal from midfielder Mirko Ivanic was the perfect start for the Belarusian side, but they were unable to impose themselves on the game after conceding, despite a few chances to win. Furthermore, having just missed out on European football last year, bowing out at this stage again would be a bitter pill to swallow.
During the offseason, BATE has signed three players, including central-midfielder Stanislav Dragun on a free transfer while five men have left the team. Manager Aleksandr Yermakovich will have a full squad roster for selection other than Evgeni Yablonski who is still suspended through a red card.
Oleksandriya (Ukr) vs. BATE (Blr) – Match Prediction:
I would have thought that BATE would have come through as victors in the last fixture, but they produced a poor performance while their opponents impressed.
Oleksandriya will be looking to frustrate from the back to protect their away goal, so I can see another close game. I would go for a draw.
MY PICK: Draw (+227)
Maccabi Tel Aviv (Isr) vs. Altach (Aut)
Three-Way: 1: Maccabi Tel Aviv -147; X: +305 Draw; 2: Altach +525
Spread -1: Maccabi Tel Aviv +112; Altach -125
Total +2.5: Over +102; Under -111
Maccabi Tel Aviv
The 21-times Israeli champions delivered a win against Altach in the first leg of the Europa League playoffs, as was expected of them, with a 1:0 scoreline. However, Maccabi Tel Aviv may have found it a trickier match than they may have previously thought, as it took until the 67th minute to score and were by no means dominant during the game, retaining just 38% possession. That being said, Tel Aviv is the team with the European pedigree and should be able to finish the job in the second leg.
Maccabi Tel Aviv has made six additions to their squad this summer, while twelve players left, notably, winger Tan Ben Haim who joined Sparta Praha for 3 million Euros. Manager Aleksandr Uvarov will have a full squad for Thursday’s game.
A 1:0 loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv was by no means an embarrassment and their players should keep their heads held high after a valiant performance. In addition, Altach were unfortunate not to take something away from the game, with a lion-share of possession and five shots on target to their opponents two. What might not help the Austrian side is their recent poor form, failing to win their last four league games, placing them just one position above relegation. Additionally, they have failed to get on the score sheet in their last four games.
Altach has signed seven players, including midfielder Stefan Nutz winger from SV Ried, while eight have left. Manager Klaus Schmidt will be without Boris Prokopic through an Achilles tendon rupture and Andreas Lukse who has a shoulder injury, while Lucas Galvao will be out with a yellow card suspension.
Maccabi Tel Aviv (Isr) vs. Altach (Aut) – Match Prediction:
The confidence will be with Tel Aviv for the Europa League second leg of the playoffs, especially in front of their home crowd, and I could see them beating their opponents by a few goals. Altach will try to hold out, but as soon as the first one goes in, the floodgates may open.
MY PICK: Maccabi Tel Aviv -1 AH (+112)
Dynamo Kiev (Ukr) vs. Maritimo (Por)
Three-Way: 1: Dynamo Kiev -312; X: +500 Draw; 2: Maritimo +1400
Spread -1.5: Dynamo Kiev -111; Maritimo +110
Total +2.5: Over -114; Under +110
A dull affair in Portugal saw Dynamo Kiev draw to their opponents 0:0, where they would have hoped to score at least once. However, it was the Ukrainian side who looked the more likely to win with a 62% share of possession, but failed to create enough chances in a game in which its most interesting event took form of a red card for Kiev defender Yevhen Khacheridi, following a second booking within less than ten minutes of his first. Despite neither team gaining an advantage, it was Kiev who looked like the more likely team to take the initiative in the second leg and progress.
During the offseason, Dynamo Kiev signed three players, while eight left the team, including Younes Belhanda to Galatasaray for 8 million Euros. Manager Alyaksandr Khatskevich will be without Evgeni Khacheridi following his red card in the first leg, but will otherwise have a full squad.
Portuguese side Maritimo faces a tricky task of having to get a result away at Dynamo Kiev after drawing 0:0 in the first leg. There were some positives to take away from the game, including the obvious positive that they are still in the tie, and that they managed a total of ten shots, demonstrating that with better finishing they might be able to get the goal they require. However, qualifying for the Europa League would be the second time in the club’s history, the first time being in the 2012-13 season, and without taking advantage at home they will have to surprise pundits and bookies to come away as qualifiers again.
Maritimo’s summer has seen a number of in and out-goings with a total of thirteen new arrivals and twelve departures. Manager Daniel Ramos will be without forward Amido Baldé but will otherwise have a full squad.
Dynamo Kiev (Ukr) vs. Maritimo (Por) – Match Prediction:
Historically, Dynamo Kiev is the greater side and proved this in the first leg with relative dominance. I would expect Dynamo Kiev to come out in front of their home crowd with greater intent and defeat their opponents with ease.
MY PICK: Dynamo Kiev –1.5 AH (-111)
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