Another Europa League campaign kicks off tomorrow with a host of teams competing in this matchday one of six.
It may not be Europe’s most prestigious competition but there are still plenty of opportunities available, and our football betting expert has picked out some of the best bets from the opening round of games.
PAOK v Chelsea
Chelsea will be content with their UEFA Europa League draw. They begin their campaign away from home as they travel to Greece to take on PAOK. The Blues are one of the front-runners to win the tournament but, at this early stage, manager Maurizio Sarri is likely to make some changes to his squad.
PAOK are yet to lose to an English side, having won two and drawn two against English opposition and in that spirit they are 11/4 with Grosvenorsport.com to score over 1.5 goals here. Last season PAOK were knocked out early from Europe but that strengthened their domestic form, as they went on to finish second in the league and won the Greek Cup.
Meanwhile, settling for last season’s fifth spot in the Premier League, Chelsea had to resign themselves to the Europa League group stages for the first time in their history butLike PAOK, Chelsea are domestic cup holders after winning the FA Cup.
They were in the 2013 tournament, but they entered only after falling out of the Champions League group stage and they went on to win the Europa League title that season.
Marseille v Eintracht
Returning to the European football for the first time in half-a-decade, Eintracht Frankfurt will surely be cursing their luck, having drawn Marseille and Lazio, two strong sides who only narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification last season.
What could have been a fantastic away trip to the Stade Velodrome, the match is being played behind closed doors due the behaviour of Marseille fans last season. This lack of support from the stands will inevitably have an impact on the German side’s performance.
The loss of coach Niko Kovac to Bayern Munich has also been felt, as they have had a sluggish start to the season, which is in stark contrast to opponents Marseille, who currently sit second in Ligue 1.
Rudi Garcia has a solid group of players in the final third. Florian Thauvin has been the most lethal of them all so far in the campaign. This year’s World Cup winner took his league tally to five goals by netting a brace in the 4-0 drubbing of Guingamp on Sunday.
Kostas Mitroglou was also on the scoresheet as well as Dimitri Payet. They should all have plenty of space to create up front past the struggling defensive line of Eintracht’s here and I’d be very surprised to see anything but a comprehensive victory for last season’s Europa League runners-up here.