Football | Europa League Round of 32 first leg | Preview and Odds

UEFA Europa League football is back this week with plenty of games to get stuck into in the first legs of this round of 32.

Two London sides who have been more accustomed to the Champions League in recent years will be in action, with Arsenal travelling to Belarus to face BATE Borisov, while Malmo FF will be welcoming Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea.

Our football expert has taken a look at some of the best odds across these two fixtures.

BATE Borisov v Arsenal

The Belarusian side have shown that they are far from wallflowers in this competition, particularly when losing by just one goal against Chelsea in the group stages.

BATE shipped four goals in their opening fixture against PAOK and, while the score didn’t entirely do their performance justice, it showed their weakness in defence – something they must address ahead of this match with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looking to exploit it.

They have demonstrated a certain understated solidity so far and have ground out results in key fixtures, but Arsenal have won all three of their away trips in the tournament thus far so this is set to be a tough ask for the hosts, with the Gunners going in 2/5 favourites with

Unai Emery’s men netted 12 in their six group games and, while the home side have fought well in the competition so far, they only averaged a goal per-game in the groups, and I can’t see them getting anything from Thursday’s clash.

I’m tempted by the 13/8 on offer for the away team to register over 2.5 total goals, as I suspect the London outfit will want to get the tie wrapped up ahead of the second leg.

Malmo FF v Chelsea

The Swedes have been less than convincing so far in the competition, even when playing on their own turf, and now they face Chelsea side who will be looking to get the result after their 6-0 Premier League thrashing at the hands of Manchester City over the weekend.

There’s always the chance that the Blues will fail to recover their confidence ahead of this fixture though, and if Malmo have the resolve to capitalise upon this vulnerability they could well claim a draw here, which is available with at 7/2.

Malmo beat Besiktas, but in reality they were fortunate to do so, especially since they gave more away than they created, while they offered very little going forward when drawing against Genk.

However their defence has been decent, so I think they will likely go into this game with an element of damage limitation in mind and, with Chelsea also knowing that they have the second leg at Stamford Bridge ahead, it could be worth backing a low-key affair here.

A 0-1 result can be backed at 13/2.

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