Moussa Sissoko Europa League Preview

Europa League Match Previews, Odds & Betting – Feb 16th

Grosvenor Sport – Europa League Betting Preview

English clubs have been known to turn their nose up at Europa League football, but with the race for a Top 4 Premier League finish closer than ever, you can bet your bottom dollar Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United will take the competition seriously this season.

With the race for a European trophy and guaranteed Champions League qualification back underway this Thursday, Adrian Clarke previews two big games…

Gent v Tottenham Hotspur

When Spurs shelled out £18.5million for striker Vincent Janssen last summer, they’d have expected him to be at least into double figures by the following February.

He’s got four goals. None are from open play. All of them have been penalties.

The Dutchman has worked his socks off and played OK at times, but in a purely goalscoring sense (and that is what he’s paid to do) the 22-year-old has endured a complete stinker since moving to White Hart Lane.

Is this his moment to finally hit the back of the net with a shot that isn’t a spot kick?

Call me crazy, but my hunch says yes.

With Mauricio Pochettino likely to rest Harry Kane, the Europa League represents a golden chance for Janssen to get over his jitters, and opponents Gent are hardly European heavyweights.

Just across the border from his native Netherlands – where he bagged 27 Eredivise goals for AZ Alkmaar last season – he should feel more at home.

The front man is 9/5 to score anytime, but if you pair a Janssen goal with a 0-2 victory for Tottenham, the odds stretch out to a more appealing 18/1.

I hate to be negative, but I’m not anticipating a thriller.

De Buffalo’s Stance

The Belgians are a lowly 8th in their domestic division, scoring just 33 goals in 26 league matches. Losing three of their last six on their home patch, I just can’t see the off-form hosts offering too much verve or ambition.

They will keep things tight, and try to deny Spurs an away goal before the return leg at Wembley Stadium. For them, a 0-0 would be cheered from the rafters, and give them a shot at springing an upset beneath the arch.

As the North Londoners have gone 193 minutes without scoring on their travels, the goalless draw isn’t a bad shout at 15/2, but I prefer a narrow away success. Even if one or two big names sit this out, they should still have too much class.

Remember Moussa Sissoko? The winger’s at 14/1 to score first or last, and this would be an ideal time to remind his manager why they’re paying him £5million a year. In fact you could say that for that money, he owes them more than one goal!

With Spurs odds on at 15/19 to win, I’m eyeing up an away win coupled with a clean sheet. That’s available as a 19/10 shot.

I don’t think Gent will be put out of sight, but the formbook says they aren’t good enough to gain a first leg advantage.

Manchester United v St Etienne

No one seems to be making too much fuss about it, but Jose Mourinho’s men have only lost once in 22 matches since a dismal 2-1 Europa League defeat to Fenerbahce all the way back on November 3. Slowly but surely the Manchester United juggernaut is gathering speed.

It’s also 365 minutes since they conceded a goal. From front to back the Red Devils are starting to resemble a better than decent side.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is of course their main man, and he happens to regard St Etienne as one of his lucky opponents. In 10 contests against them for PSG he netted just the 11 goals, so it seems a no brainer to lump on the 18/25 for him to score anytime in this first leg clash.

Pogba Pugilism

It will also be Pogba v Pogba under the lights at Old Trafford.

Yes, the world’s most expensive player will come up against his older brother Florentin, 26, a Guinea international, and there will be occasions when the two inevitably lock horns. It should be fun to watch, and given that sibling rivalry will be running extremely high, what price I wonder for them to each pick up a booking?

For both brothers to be shown a card, Grosvenor Sport are offering a very tempting 22/1.

The French visitors are a well organised, solid Ligue One outfit who are currently sat in 5th place, so don’t expect this to be a runaway triumph. It’s hard not to fancy United strongly, but I doubt this tie will be put to bed completely.

When you study the patterns, it’s clear St Etienne are not the kind of team that folds in the second half of matches. They have conceded just 10 times after the break in Ligue One this term, which is the best defensive record of anyone in France.

They are also the third highest top scorers in the second half of games, behind Monaco and PSG, so Jose Mourinho may be looking to encourage his players to make a lightning fast start.

I believe Manchester United are probably too short at 3/10, but I do believe they’ll take a lead into the return clash. I like the Manchester United/Manchester United half-time/full time gamble at 8/9.

If they can take an early lead, I think they’ll hang onto it, but the match could be close.

Don’t miss a minute of this week’s Europa League action, with both games involving the English teams being shown live at Grosvenor’s 53 local casinos.


Image: Wikimedia (Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0))





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