Europa League MW4 Betting Guide – Our best tips for Thursday’s UEL games (26/11/20)

You can back these three Europa League tips from Andrew Delaney on Thursday 26th November at 7/1, including Spurs, the Serbian champions and early high-flyers from La Liga on full-time result, HT/FT and win to nil markets.

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Red Star Belgrade to Win 21/10*

Europa League – Gent vs Red Star Belgrade [17:55 GMT]

The Serbian champions are one of the form teams in the Europa League, winning their last six across all competitions, scoring 20 goals. That fine run includes two wins in this competition, a 5-1 win over Slovan Liberec and a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture against their next opponents, Gent, both at home at their infamous Rajko Mitic Stadium. Their only defeat this season came against Hoffenheim in this group, but the German side appear to be a class above the rest in Group L.

Red Star will meet a side who are having a torrid season after losing top scorer Jonathan David over the summer. The team’s performances have fallen off massively, losing eight of their last 12, including all three group games in this competition, without the Canadian who joined Lille in August. Despite a win at the weekend, the Belgian side sits tenth after 13 games in the Pro League.

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Granada Win to Nil 17/20*

Europa League – Granada vs Omonia Nicosia [20:00 GMT]

After their entire squad was forced to self isolate following their trip to Cyprus for the reverse fixture against Omonia, Granada will be back to full strength for the visit of Group E’s bottom side. Granada’s encounters have been relatively low scoring, seeing just five goals in three games so far, and their trip to Cyprus saw them win to nil against an Omonia side who came into the competition as bottom seeds and big outsiders to progress. 

The Cypriot champions are in awful form too, having not won in seven (3D, 4L), failing to score in four games. Besides this, Granada have kept a clean sheet in 50% of their matches this season in all competitions, including four in six European encounters.

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Tottenham HT/FT 4/11*

Europa League – Tottenham Hotspur vs Ludogorets Razgrad [20:00 GMT]

Since an opening day defeat to Everton, Spurs have been in imperious form, winning 12 of their last 15 games, with the only blip coming away to Antwerp after Jose Mourinho’s rung the chances to his starting lineup. Their trip to Bulgaria three weeks ago saw them record a comfortable 3-1 win over Ludogorets as they gave Harry Kane a first start in the group stage, getting on the scoresheet in the process.

Spurs also love to fill their boots when facing sides from lesser European leagues at home, scoring an average of 3.1 goals per game against teams outside the top-five leagues in the group stage of UEFA competitions. Ludogorets have lost all three Europa League group games so far and have been two goals down at halftime in their last two against LASK and the reverse tie with Spurs.

*Odds as of time of writing (Wednesday 25th November 2020) and subject to change

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Europa League MW4 Fixtures

17:55 GMT
AEK vs Zorya
Braga vs Leicester City
CSKA Moscow vs Feyenoord
CSKA Sofia vs Young Boys
Gent vs Crvena zvezda
LASK vs Antwerp
Liberec vs Hoffenheim
Lille vs AC Milan
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Villarreal
Molde vs Arsenal
Qarabag vs Sivasspor
Sparta Prague vs Celtic
Wolfsberger AC vs Dinamo Zagreb

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20:00 GMT
AZ Alkmaar vs Real Sociedad
CFR Cluj vs AS Roma
Dundalk vs Rapid Vienna
Granada vs Omonia
Leverkusen vs Hapoel Beer Sheva
Napoli vs Rijeka
Nice vs Slavia Prague
Rangers vs Benfica
Standard Liege vs Lech
Tottenham vs Ludogorets

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Liverpool vs Atalanta: Predictions, Betting Tips and Odds – Will La Dea take revenge over the Premier League champions after a thrashing in Bergamo? (25/11/20)

Liverpool need just a win at home to Atalanta in order to progress through to the UEFA Champions League knockout stage. They are big favourites to do so after beating their upcoming opponents 5-0 in Italy three weeks ago.  Andrew Delaney previews Wednesday night’s encounter and provides his best betting tips.

Event Details

Who is playing?

Liverpool vs Atalanta

What competition are Liverpool and Atalanta playing in?

UEFA Champions League

When is Liverpool vs Atalanta?

20:00 GMT, Wednesday 25th November 2020

What stadium is hosting Liverpool vs Atalanta?

Anfield, Liverpool, England

What channel is Liverpool vs Atalanta on?

BT Sport

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Liverpool vs Atalanta Summary

Arguably Europe’s two most potent attacking forces meet at Anfield for the second fixture in their double-header, mid-way through this Champions League group stage. Combined, they scored 182 goals in their domestic leagues last season, and they have continued in the same vein this season, with both projected to score a similar amount again. It was all one-sided in Bergamo on matchday three though, as Liverpool ran riot over an Atalanta side that never got going, winning 5-0 with all the goals coming inside 54 minutes, including a hat trick for new man Diogo Jota.

That eye-catching result three weeks ago means Jurgen Klopp’s side can confirm their place in the Last 16 with a win in the reverse fixture here at Anfield. If Ajax drop points to Midtjylland, then Liverpool will also be confirmed as group winners. However, all will not be lost if Atalanta lose here.

They lost their first three group games last season, but became the first side in Champions League history to still qualify for the knockout round after doing so with a remarkably low seven points. They still progressed further than their opponents Liverpool in that competition, bowing out in the quarter-finals to Paris Saint-Germain.

Liverpool Team News and Form

Despite missing many first-team players, Liverpool strolled to success over Leicester City on Sunday night, as they now only trail Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference at the top of the Premier League. Their infamous defeat to Aston Villa remains their only loss in the league this season, as the absence of Virgil van Dijk in defence has seen them improve their defensive record. Three wins from three in their Champions League group means they are assured of a spot in the next round in February.

Eight first-team players look to be unavailable to Klopp for the visit of Atalanta. Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri, Naby Keita are all definitely out, while Thiago Alcantara is doubtful. They have declared Mohamed Salah fit to play after recovering from COVID-19 this week.

Atalanta Team News and Form

After a blistering start, which saw Atalanta score 13 goals in their first three games, heavy defeats to Napoli and Sampdoria derailed their title push early on. Since a 5-2 win over Cagliari in their third match of the season, they have won just twice in their last eight games, against the whipping boys of both Serie A and the Champions League, Crotone and Midtjylland, two teams without a win in the respective competitions. Having become accustomed to seeing a free-flowing Atalanta, La Dea have scored just once in their last three games, a stark contrast to their goal-laden start to the season.

Marten de Roon, Robin Gosens and Bosko Sutalo all returned from injury against Spezia at the weekend after the trio missed the reverse clash in Bergamo, but Mattia Caldara remains sidelined. Pierluigi Gollini made his first appearance of the season in the draw on Saturday, replacing Marco Sportiello, who had a night to forget against Liverpool last time out. Fabio Depaoli went off injured in the first half on Saturday while Ruslan Malinovsky came back from the international break with Covid and both will miss out.

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Liverpool Last 5 Matches

  • Leicester (H) 3-0 Premier League win
  • Man City (A) 1-1 Premier League draw
  • Atalanta (A) 0-5 Champions League win
  • West Ham (H) 2-1 Premier League win
  • Midtjylland (H) 2-0 Champions League win

Atalanta Last 5 Matches

  • Spezia (A) 0-0 Serie A draw
  • Inter Milan (H) 1-1 Serie A draw
  • Liverpool (H) 0-5 Champions League loss
  • Crotone (A) 1-2 Serie A win
  • Ajax (H) 2-2 Champions League draw

Previous Matches

3rd November 2020 ATA 0-5 LIV Champions League

Source: Flashscore

Top Scorers

Liverpool Top Scorers

Mohamed Salah (10 goals in all competitions)After testing positive in Egypt, Salah will return here after a Covid absence which ruled him out of the weekend’s encounter with Leicester. It has been more of the same from Liverpool’s number 11. He has already reached double-figures for goals in just 12 games this season.

Diogo Jota (8 goals in all competitions) – At the start of the season, many would have thought Liverpool’s front three were indispensable and untouchable, but the Portuguese forward has thrown a spanner in the works and has been staking his claim for a starting spot in the Reds lineup. Another goal at the weekend took his tally to eight, three of which came in the reverse fixture at the start of the month.

Atalanta Top Scorers

Duvan Zapata (5 goals in all competitions)After netting a brace against Ajax on matchday two, the Colombian striker has not scored since, with both his club and country out of form, but Zapata has scored 48 goals in just over two years in Bergamo.

Luis Muriel + Alejandro Gomez (5 goals in all competitions) Atalanta’s extraordinary scoring feats over the past few years have been down to their ability of spreading the goals all around the squad. Their 24 goals have been shared between ten players, and Muriel and Gomez have been usual suspects since Gian Piero Gasperini has been in charge.

Match Facts

  • Liverpool have a poor record against Italian clubs, winning just 12 of their 32 meetings.
  • Atalanta travelled to Merseyside three years ago, beating Everton 5-1 in the Europa League.
  • This is Liverpool’s 25th season in the top tier of UEFA competition, while it is Atalanta’s second.

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Andrew’s Betting Tips

Liverpool Over 1.5 goals 4/9*

Liverpool have scored over 1.5 goals in 11 of their 14 games this season, and the return of Mohamed Salah will only bolster their attacking threat. Atalanta are not renowned for any sort of defensive solidity, and they have kept just two clean sheets this season, as well as conceding five in the reverse fixture.

Diogo Jota to score anytime 21/20*

After signing from Wolves over the summer, Jota has scored in all of his home appearances in the league and in Europe. His only goals away from home all came against Atalanta when he bagged a hat trick. Only Mohamed Salah has scored more goals for Liverpool than the Portuguese man this season.

Liverpool win to nil 13/5*

Atalanta’s form in front of goal has dropped off in recent games, scoring just once in their last three, while Liverpool’s defensive form has improved. Since Virgil van Dijk was ruled out injured, Liverpool have conceded just three goals in seven games, keeping four clean sheets. The Premier League champions have also kept clean sheets in all of their European encounters so far. 

*Odds as of time of writing (Tuesday 24th November 2020) and subject to change

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Napoli vs AC Milan: Predictions, Betting Tips and Odds – Can Gattuso’s men end the Rossoneri’s unbeaten league start to go top of Serie A? (22/11/20)

League leaders AC Milan travel south to face third-placed Napoli in this heavyweight clash at the top of Italy’s top flight on Sunday night, as either side could end the weekend in first position.  Andrew Delaney previews this Serie A encounter and provides his best betting tips.

Event Details

Who is playing?

Napoli vs AC Milan

What competition are Napoli and AC Milan playing in?

Serie A

When is Napoli vs AC Milan?

19:45 GMT, Sunday 22nd November 2020

What stadium is hosting Napoli vs AC Milan?

Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy

What channel is Napoli vs AC Milan on?

Premier Sports

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Napoli vs AC Milan Summary

Two of Italy’s Europa League participants have found themselves in much better league positions at the start of the 2020/21 Serie A season, with an unbeaten Milan side top after seven games, two points clear of Sassuolo in second, and Napoli close behind in third, three points behind Stefano Pioli’s side. Napoli felt hard done by when their scheduled tie away to Juventus did not take place after they were told not to travel by local health authorities, resulting in them being awarded a 3-0 defeat and a one point deduction. Those four points lost could be crucial come the business end of the campaign.

Milan have not played Champions League football since 2014, but their form since football resumed in June suggests they are a favourite to make the top four this season, and also potentially bring Juventus’ monopoly domination of Serie A to an end. Napoli have been the closest on most occasions to ending Juve’s imperious run of consecutive Scudetto wins, but with the Old Lady suffering so far this season, this may be the best chance they have had since the days of Diego Maradona, to claim the title.

Napoli Team News and Form

After two big wins in their opening two home games of the season (4-1 over Atalanta and 6-0 over Genoa), Napoli have since lost two in a row at the San Paolo without scoring, against AZ Alkmaar in Europe and to Sassuolo domestically. The empty home ground may have an adverse effect on the side, as they have won every game on their travels in all competitions so far this season.

Napoli have new injury concerns following the international break, with Elseid Hysaj and Amir Rrahmani both out after positive Covid tests, and Victor Osimhen may face a lengthy spell out after dislocating his shoulder on Nigeria duty in their 4-4 draw with Sierra Leone. After being doubtful, David Ospina and Tiemoue Bakayoko are set to be passed fit to play in this one.

AC Milan Team News and Form

Milan have been much like Napoli of late, in that they seem to prefer playing away from San Siro. They followed a heavy defeat to Lille in their last Europa League fixture with a draw at home to Hellas Verona in the last game before the international break, in which they trailed 2-0 after just 20 minutes. Their only away defeat in 2020 technically still came at their home venue, against Inter in February, so you have to go back to December 2019 to find the last match they lost away from San Siro, a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Atalanta. Much has changed since then, as Milan are still yet to lose a league game since football resumed in the summer.

Alessio Romagnoli has recovered from a minor injury picked up on Italy duty and will feature here, while fellow central defender Mateo Musacchio is close to returning after several months out. Rafael Leao will be absent for a few weeks though, after suffering a thigh injury while away with Portugal. Some of Milan’s key players, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Theo Hernandez and Alexis Saelemaekers, remained in Italy during the break and will be fresh for this clash.

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Napoli Last 5 Matches

  • Bologna (A) 0-1 Serie A win
  • Rijeka (A) 1-2 Europa League win
  • Sassuolo (H) 0-2 Serie A loss
  • Real Sociedad (A) 0-1 Europa League win
  • Benevento (A) 1-2 Serie A win

AC Milan Last 5 Matches

  • Hellas Verona (H) 2-2 Serie A draw
  • Lille (H) 0-3 Europa League loss
  • Udinese (A) 1-2 Serie A win
  • Sparta Prague (H) 3-0 Europa League win
  • Roma (H) 3-3 Serie A draw

Previous Matches

12/07/20 NAP 2-2 ACM Serie A
23/11/19 ACM 1-1 NAP Serie A
29/01/19 ACM 2-0 NAP Coppa Italia
26/01/19 ACM 0-0 NAP Serie A
25/08/19 NAP 3-2 ACM Serie A

Source: Flashscore

Top Scorers

Napoli Top Scorers

Hirving Lozano (4 Goals) – The Mexican wide man is finally finding his feet in Naples after spending much of his first year in Italy as a bit-part player. He has already matched his scoring tally from last season in just six games, playing an integral part in their two home successes in the league, over Atalanta and Genoa, scoring a brace in both. He was also on the scoresheet during the international break for Mexico.

Dries Mertens (2 Goals) – Another attacking threat who netted during the international was Dries Mertens, whose free kick for Belgium helped them to a 2-0 victory over England. He has not scored for Napoli since game week two, but with Victor Osimhen now missing, he will more than likely be used in an advanced position here, after spending most of the season playing in behind.

AC Milan Top Scorers

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9 Goals) – Now at 39, it is remarkable how the Swedish legend still produces goals at this level, considering it appeared his career was dwindling away when he moved to the MLS after leaving Manchester United. A return to AC Milan, where he won the Scudetto in 2011, has seen him score 18 league goals in 23 games since joining in January, including eight in just five this season, making him the Serie A top scorer. 

Hakan Calhanoglu (4 Goals) – After it seemed his time at Milan was ending following a stagnant period in his development, the 26-year-old Turkish international has gone through a renaissance in line with the Rossoneri’s upturn in form since June, playing an integral part in attacking midfield. He has yet to open his scoring account in Serie A this season, but has scored four in Europe.

Match Facts

  • Napoli have not drawn a game in their last 16, winning ten and losing six.
  • Milan are on their best run away from home since Carlo Ancelotti was in charge in 2005.
  • Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso spent 13-years at Milan as a player, winning ten major honours, and managing the club between 2017-2019.
  • Napoli have conceded just four goals this season (excluding the 3-0 forfeit over Juventus), the best in the division.

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Andrew’s Betting Tips

Over 2.5 goals 4/6*

This fixture at the San Paolo always produces goals. The meeting here in July saw four goals shared evenly in a thrilling 2-2 draw, and since Napoli returned to Serie A in 2007, 11 of the 13 meetings in Naples have produced over 2.5 goals, with 18 goals scored in the last four encounters.

Under 5.5 Bookings 8/11*

The absence of fans has seen the number of bookings fall drastically in most leagues around Europe, and Serie A is no exception. Milan have received under 2.5 bookings in all of their last five games, while Napoli have not been given that many in any game this season. The last seven meetings between the two have seen under 5.5 cards awarded.

Milan Draw No Bet 23/20*

Napoli have shown fragility at home, losing their last two here, while Milan have been imperious away from San Siro, as they have not lost on their travels in 11 months. Milan to win is good value at 2/1 but a safer option for an accumulator is Milan draw no bet, considering the last time Pioli’s side fail to win away in the league was when they drew in this fixture in July.

*Odds as of time of writing (Friday 20th November 2020) and subject to change

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Masters 2020: Predictions, Betting Tips and Odds – Who will don the prestigious Green Jacket at the end of the first ever Autumn Masters? (12/11/2020)

Golfing fans will know we are in unprecedented times when they tune in for this year’s Masters tournament from their homes in mid-November, with no Patrons or stunning scenery, but the golf on show will surely make up for that. Andrew Delaney provides a preview of the action to come at Augusta National and provides his best betting tips.

Event Details:

What Competition is it?

The Masters

Who is in The Masters field?

92 players will take to the tee at Augusta, a full list of the field can be found here.

What day does the Masters start?

Thursday 12th November 2020

Where is the Masters being played?

Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia, USA.

What channel is the Masters on?

Sky Sports Main Event/Masters

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Looking ahead to the 2020 Masters:

19 months after Tiger Woods claimed his fifth Green Jacket in one of the most brilliant sporting moments in recent history, all eyes are on the majestic Augusta National Golf Club once again, rather belatedly, as it returns for its 84th edition this week. After being moved from Spring to Autumn, the major with the smallest field that pits young against old, with lifelong invitations for past winners, takes place at the most scenic venue in sport.

The golfing world came together to celebrate Woods’ heroic comeback success after going 11 years without a major victory last year making it the most memorable of his 15 major titles. Unfortunately, the ‘Patrons’ will not be present this year, but with the world’s best on show, the 2020 Masters is sure to give us the same excitement and buzz we have become accustomed to at Augusta.

The potential storylines are endless at this year’s event, Rory McIlroy is still chasing the elusive career Grand Slam, needing just the Masters to complete it and to become just the sixth golfer ever to do so, while Woods continues his attempts to overtake Jack Nicklaus’ record of most major titles by one player, still three short of matching Jack’s legendary success. Some top players in the field are still chasing a first ever major win, such as Xander Schauffele and Jon Rahm, while Matthew Wolff is fancied by many, playing in his first Masters.

Jordan Spieth is hoping to revitalise a declining career with a good showing here, if he can make the cut first, while Brooks Koepka, who has been in the wilderness since golf returned thanks to injury, will take part, seeking a fifth career major. It may not be the authentic Augusta experience we are all used to this time around, but it will still be fun watching the elite battle it out.

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Augusta National:


Opened in 1933

Featured Holes:

10th (Camellia): Par 4 – 495 yards – Bubba Watson’s physics-defying shot from the pine straw to win in 2012 still lingers in the memory on what is notoriously the most challenging hole here.

12th (Golden Bell): Par 3 – 155 yards – The scene of Jordan Spieth’s shocking quadruple-bogey causing his capitulation in 2016. The water on the 12th hole combined with surrounding bunkers offer one of the toughest tee shots on a par 3 in major golf.

13th (Azalea): Par 5 – 510 yards – One of the trickiest holes on the course, has witnessed some of the most memorable shots in Masters history, Phil Mickelson’s astonishing shot on the final round in 2010 from behind a tree comes to mind. Playing either offensively or defensively can be rewarding.

18th (Holly): Par 4 – 465 yards – The field will finish with a dogleg-right hole, which may be the scene for a thrilling finale on Sunday.

Source: Masters


7,768 yards


Par 72

History of the Masters:

Masters Defending Champion:

Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters at Augusta, shooting a score of 13-under-par.

Masters Previous Champions:

2019 – Tiger Woods by one stroke

2018 – Patrick Reed by one stroke

2017 – Sergio Garcia in a playoff

2016 – Danny Willett by three strokes

2015 – Jordan Spieth by four strokes

Masters Featured Groups:

  • Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen
  • Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy
  • Bubba Watson, Matthew Wolff, Tommy Fleetwood
  • Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Matthew Fitzpatrick

Andrew’s Betting Tips:

Xander Schauffele Top 10 Finish 11/8*

In our US Open preview back in September, we tipped young American Xander Schauffele to finish inside the top ten, after he had done so in half of his major appearances previous to that. He duly proceeded, finishing fifth, meaning he has now secured a top ten finish in seven of his 13 majors. Schauffele has also appeared in three PGA Tour events in the new season, carding another two top ten finishes, as he continues to prove he is one of the most consistent players on the tour.

Hole in one – No 8/5*

Jon Rahm’s insane water-skimming hole in one during practice on Tuesday went viral causing many to opt for a punt on there being a hole in one in the competition proper, come Thursday. Despite the fact they have become increasingly common at Augusta, with 11 of the 27 aces ever achieved all coming in the last ten years, it still requires a huge amount of luck, and depending on pin placements, some players may not even aim for the hole from the Par 3 tees.

Matthew Wolff Top Debutant 9/2*

Never in the modern history of the Masters have we seen so many exciting debutants in one tournament. USPGA champion Collin Morikawa, US Open runner-up Matthew Wolff, and Korean Sungjae Im, already a winner on the PGA Tour, are just a selection of those making their Augusta bow this week. Despite his major success in the summer, Morikawa has not hit the same level since and missed the cut at the US Open, while Im has only made two cuts in his six previous appearances. Wolff plays in just his third major here, after coming in a tie for fourth and outright second in the year’s two major so far.

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Ludogorets vs Spurs: Predictions, Betting Tips and Odds – Can Tottenham bounce back from disappointment in Belgium last week? (05/11/20)

Tottenham’s defeat at Antwerp last week was their first since the opening day against Everton. They next travel to Bulgaria to face European regulars Ludogorets Razgrad, aiming for a return to winning ways on the continent. Andrew Delaney previews this early kick off fixture in the UEL and provides his best betting tips.

Event Details

Who is playing?

Ludogorets vs Spurs

What competition are Ludogorets and Spurs playing in?

UEFA Europa League

When is Ludogorets vs Spurs?

17:55 GMT, Thursday 5th November 2020

What stadium is hosting Ludogorets vs Spurs?

Huvepharma Arena, Razgrad, Bulgaria

What channel is Ludogorets vs Spurs on?

BT Sport

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Ludogorets vs Spurs Summary

Two sides who suffered defeat away from home on game week two in Group J of the Europa League meet in Razgrad as Spurs look to revive their European adventure after limping to a deserved loss in Belgium against Antwerp last Thursday. Ludogorets are still yet to get going in the group, as a home loss to Antwerp was followed up by a dreadful start in Linz against LASK which saw them 4-1 down, before a late fight back saw them reduce that deficit of defeat to just one goal.

Jose Mourinho will target this competition as one Spurs can definitely win this season, but if he continues with his rotation policy during their hectic run of fixtures, he will need to see better performances than what his side produced against Antwerp. Ludogorets will aim for a tenth consecutive Bulgarian Parva Liga title in just ten seasons in the top flight, while they will see any success them achieve in Europe as a welcome distraction from domestic matters.

Ludogorets Team News and Form

Ludogorets look on course to be champions of Bulgaria once again, despite being three points behind Lokomotiv Plovdiv currently, they have two games in hand on the league leaders. After a stuttering start on the continent though, they will need a big turnaround to recover from two opening defeats in a very tough group, LASK reached the Last 16 last season, Antwerp are in incredible form both domestically and in Europe and Spurs are always going to be an extremely tough test.

After being used sporadically since joining in the summer, Elvis Manu’s hat-trick against LASK means he will be certain to start here, but influential Brazilian-born Bulgarian international Wanderson has still not featured for Ludogorets this season and has been a big miss. Top scorer Higinio went off injured in their league match with Montana ten days ago and has not featured since either. Another Brazilian-born Bulgarian dual national, Cicinho, can offer more of an offensive threat from right-back than going the other way.

Spurs Team News and Form:

It will be interesting to see whether Jose Mourinho opts to heavily rotate his starting eleven once more for this European fixture after it backfiring against Antwerp. Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn, Carlos Vinicius and Giovani Lo Celso were all hooked at half time after a lacklustre first half display, but even with his main men on the pitch, Mourinho did not see much of an improvement as Antwerp strolled to victory.

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were both on the bench again for the second European game in succession, but were both brought on and if Mourinho wants to make sure of a straightforward win here, he may start the duo who have been in unstoppable form in the Premier League.

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Ludogorets Last 5 Matches

  • Levski Sofia (H) 1-0 Parva Liga win
  • LASK (A) 4-3 Europa League loss
  • Montana (A) 1-3 Parva Liga win
  • Antwerp (H) 1-2 Europa League loss
  • Tsarsko Seto (H) 1-1 Parva Liga draw

Spurs Last 5 Matches

  • Brighton (H) 2-1 Premier League win
  • Antwerp (A) 1-0 Europa League loss
  • Burnley (A) 0-1 Premier League win
  • LASK (H) 3-0 Europa League win
  • West Ham (H) 3-3 Premier League draw

Previous Matches

This will be a first ever meeting between the two clubs, but Ludogorets have a good amount of recent experience against English clubs, including Spurs’ North London rivals Arsenal. They took a 2-0 lead against the Gunners in Bulgaria in the Champions League group stage but lost 3-2 before going down 6-0 at the Emirates in 2016.

Two years previously, in the same competition, they scored a 90th minute equaliser at Anfield and still lost, but managed a 2-2 draw with Liverpool at home. Spurs have only faced Bulgarian opposition once before, and it was just six weeks ago, when they narrowly beat Lokomotiv Plovdiv 2-1 in qualifying for this competition.

Source: Flashscore

Top Scorers

Ludogorets Top Scorers

Higinio (7 Goals, 2 in Europe) – The Spanish frontman joined this summer on a free from Numancia and has hit the ground running in a drastically different environment, scoring seven goals in his first 12 appearances for the club.

Elvis Manu (6 Goals, 4 in Europe) – Manu is another new arrival, this time returning to Europe after a brief spell in Chinese football with Beijing Renhe, and the former-Brighton and Huddersfield man almost single-handedly sparked a remarkable comeback against LASK, scoring a hat-trick in their 4-3 defeat.

Spurs Top Scorers

Harry Kane (11 Goals, 5 in Europe) – After the second-string starting eleven flattered to deceive against Antwerp in the first half, Jose Mourinho put on all of his big guns to no effect. He will debate using the likes of Kane though, as a defeat here could be costly. Kane scored in Spurs’ trip to Bulgaria in September against Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

Son Heung-min (10 Goals, 2 in Europe) – Son was unable to score for a fifth game in succession when brought off the bench in Belgium, but with Dele Alli, Gareth Bale and Steven Bergwijn out of form, Son may be used from the outset.

Match Facts

  • This is the first ever meeting between the clubs.
  • Spurs are two-time winners of this competition, in 1972 and 1984.
  • This is the first time an English side will go to Razgrad, as both previous English clubs faced Ludogorets when they were forced to play home matches in the capital Sofia.
  • Ludogorets have qualified for the Europa League knockout round more often than any other Bulgarian side.
  • Ludogorets currently have no permanent manager, after the sacking of Pavel Vrba last week.

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Andrew’s Betting Tips

Under 3.5 Goals 4/7*

Despite their goal fest in Linz last week, games in Razgrad rarely see many goals scored, with nine of their last ten home games seeing under 3.5 goals scored. Tottenham’s last four games have all seen the same feat, including their two European encounters so far.

Under 3.5 Cards ?/?*

Spurs have only received one yellow card in their last six matches, for Erik Lamela’s scuffle with Anthony Martial in their 6-1 win at Old Trafford, while Ludogorets have only been given over two bookings in two of their last six games, a clean encounter could be in store here.

Draw-Tottenham (Halftime-Fulltime) 3/1*

If Mourinho opts for rotation again, Spurs may struggle to get going from the start in Bulgaria and the first half may pass by with little goalmouth action. As Ludogorets tire from the expected lack of possession and Mourinho starts to put on more of his first team players, expect Spurs to find a winning goal in the second half.

*Odds as of time of writing (Monday 1st November 2020) and subject to change

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Basaksehir vs Man Utd: Predictions, Betting Tips and Odds – Will Solskjaer’s side continue their perfect start in Europe? (04/11/20)

Manchester United have the opportunity to make it three wins from three in this season’s UEFA Champions League when they travel to Istanbul to face competition debutants Basaksehir, who have yet to score a goal or register a point so far. Andrew Delaney previews Wednesday’s early kick off and provides his best betting tips.

Event Details

Who is playing?

Basaksehir vs Manchester United

What competition are Basaksehir and Man Utd playing in?

UEFA Champions League

When is Basaksehir vs Man Utd?

17:55 GMT, Wednesday 4th November 2020

What stadium is hosting Basaksehir vs Man Utd?

Fatih Terim Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey

What channel is Basaksehir vs Man Utd on?

BT Sport

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Basaksehir vs Man Utd Summary

There will not be any fans to give Manchester United a raucous, intimidating welcome to Turkey, like they have experienced in the past, and it is unlikely they would have in normal circumstances anyway considering Basaksehir are a club with a tiny fan base, but United often stumble into trouble when travelling to the country on the pitch, only recording three away wins in eight trips.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have made an incredible start though, with two brilliant wins over the fellow heavyweights of the group, PSG and RB Leipzig, whereas Basaksehir have suffered defeat against the same two opponents, failing to score in both encounters. With the Turks taking the role of whipping boys early on, United will be devastated if they cannot take three points here, and in doing so, squandering the chance of putting themselves in an ideal position to qualify for the knockout stages.

Basaksehir Team News and Form

Turkish champions Basaksehir were given the unenviable task of having to navigate a group consisting of last year’s finalists PSG, last season’s semi-finalists RB Leipzig and three-time winners Manchester United, in their debut appearance in UEFA’s elite club competition, and it has started just how many imagined, with two defeats from two. Their start to the Super Lig season has been dreadful too, as they were bottom after four games, picking up just one point, but despite a recent upturn in results, they have been unable to transfer that form into Europe.

The Istanbul club have been without first choice right-back Junior Caicara since he went off injured in the first half against Leipzig, and new signing Nacer Chadli, formerly of Tottenham, has yet to feature for the club after joining from Monaco due to injury as well, former Man United full-back Rafael will likely deputise for Caicara. Bosnian forward Edin Visca is the star man, alongside other former Premier League players Demba Ba and Martin Skrtel.

Man Utd Team News and Form:

Man United’s European form has been a welcome distraction from an underwhelming start domestically, which sees them 15th with seven points and just two league wins so far. A win in Paris was followed up by a 5-0 hammering of RB Leipzig meaning they go into the fixture top of the group and playing in the early kick off could see them go six points clear before Leipzig host PSG in the later round of fixtures.

Solskjaer sprung a surprise with his starting eleven against Leipzig, naming Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford on the bench, but that did not stop the local lad from bagging a hat-trick as a substitute though, as United ran riot in the final quarter of the game. With Anthony Martial still suspended for domestic matches, he is expected to start again in Europe and there was also just a second start at the club for Donny van de Beek last Wednesday, while Mason Greenwood was given a first start since their 6-1 loss against Spurs in the same match and got himself on the scoresheet.

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Basaksehir Last Five Matches

  • Konyaspor (A) 1-2 Super Lig win
  • PSG (H) 0-2 Champions League loss
  • Antalyaspor (H) 5-1 Super Lig win
  • RB Leipzig (A) 2-0 Champions League loss
  • Trabzonspor (A) 0-2 Super Lig win

Man Utd Last Five Matches

  • Arsenal (H) 0-1 Premier League loss
  • RB Leipzig (H) 5-0 Champions League win
  • Chelsea (H) 0-0 Premier League draw
  • PSG (A) 1-2 Champions League win
  • Newcastle (A) 1-4 Premier League win

Previous Matches

Due to Basaksehir’s very brief history as a club, the two have never met before, but Basaksehir have faced English opponents in the past. In 2018, they were paired with Burnley in Europa League qualifying and lost 1-0 on aggregate after a defeat at Turf Moor.

Basaksehir will be the fifth different Turkish side United have faced in Europe, after Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Besiktas and Bursaspor. On their last two trips to Turkey, the Red Devils have fallen to defeat, Fenerbahce in 2016 and Galatasaray in 2012.

Source: Flashscore

Top Scorers

Basaksehir Top Scorers

Edin Visca (3 Goals) – It has been an awful start on all fronts for the side from Istanbul, but their iconic Bosnian forward who fired them to the title last season has been a shining light despite a poor start, scoring goals in two of their three league wins so far.

Irfan Can Kahveci (2 Goals) – Kahveci, like Visca, has scored in two of their three league wins so far over Trabzonspor and Antalyaspor, and the 25-year-old was another regular as they won a first ever title in July, which also earned him a regular spot in the Turkish national side.

Man Utd Top Scorers

Marcus Rashford (7 Goals, 4 in Europe) – The man who has made headlines off the pitch for all the right reasons has continued to do so on the pitch as well, after scoring hat-trick in a 28-minute cameo against Leipzig to follow on from scoring a late winner in Paris the week previously.

Bruno Fernandes (4 Goals, 1 in Europe) – United’s new Red Devil has been a revelation since joining in January, and he has continued his influential form, scoring four goals already after netting 12 in 22 last season.

Match Facts

  • This is the first meeting between the two sides.
  • Basaksehir were founded just six years ago.
  • Only three clubs have played more Champions League games than Man United, with this being their 280th, in comparison, this will be Basaksehir’s third.
  • The two sides would have met in last season’s Europa League quarter-finals, but Basaksehir blew a first leg lead and were knocked out by Copenhagen.
  • Strangely, this stadium hosted a neutral Europa League fixture last Thursday, between Qarabag and Villarreal.

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Andrew’s Betting Tips

Man Utd over 1.5 Goals 1/2*

Basaksehir have conceded over 1.5 goals in both group stage fixtures so far, while Man United have scored over 1.5 in both of theirs, whilst overall, achieving the feat in two-thirds of their games this season across all competitions. Basaksehir’s ropey start on all fronts has seen them keep only two clean sheets in nine games.

Man Utd win to nil 6/5*

Despite United’s defensive problems, they have kept two clean sheets in three against Chelsea and Leipzig, as the back five of de Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire and Shaw look more settled than they did a few weeks back. Basaksehir have been goal-shy this season, failing to score in six of their nine games, and they will need a perfect performance if they are to shut out the visitors’ potent attack.

Bruno Fernandes Anytime Score 6/5*

The Portuguese midfielder is United’s designated penalty taker, and no English side have received more penalties than the Red Devils since the start of last season. Fernandes is also a keen long shot taker and has found the net on more than one occasion from range for United.

*Odds as of time of writing (Sunday 1st November 2020) and subject to change

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Antwerp vs Spurs: Predictions, Betting Tips and Odds – Will Tottenham earn two UEL wins from two despite crammed schedule? (29/10/20)

Tottenham’s hectic schedule continues as they travel to northern Belgium to face competition debutants Royal Antwerp. Both sides are seeking a second win in the group after both recording opening day wins in the UEFA Europa League. Andrew Delaney previews this early kick off fixture in the UEL and provides his best betting tips.

Event Details

Who is playing?

Antwerp vs Spurs

What competition are Antwerp and Spurs playing in?

UEFA Europa League

When is Antwerp vs Spurs?

17:55 GMT, Thursday 29th October 2020

What stadium is hosting Antwerp vs Spurs?

Bosuilstadion, Antwerp, Belgium

What channel is Antwerp vs Spurs on?

BT Sport

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Antwerp vs Spurs Summary

The two early front runners in Group J meet on Thursday in Belgium, and English side Spurs will hope the result is like when England met Belgium earlier this month at Wembley and won by two goals to one. Antwerp should not be underestimated though, especially after coming from behind to defeat experienced European outfit Ludogorets in their opening group encounter and Europa League debut.

While the Belgians may see progression through the groups as success, Spurs fans will expect a deep run in this competition, as they aim to end a trophy-less run dating back to 2008, and with serial winner Jose Mourinho at the helm, better showings in cup competitions will be a specific target, after disappointing exits last season to Leipzig, Norwich City and Colchester United. Antwerp, in comparison, qualified for this competition by winning the domestic cup in Belgium last season.

Antwerp Team News and Form

As we mentioned in our Europa League Preview prior to last week’s opening fixtures, Lior Refaelov and Dieumerci Mbokani were the two danger men to monitor, and they have proven this over the past seven days. Refaelov scored the winner in Bulgaria as they came from a goal down to beat Ludogorets last Thursday, before scoring and assisting in Antwerp’s 3-2 win over Germinal Beerschot in the league on Sunday, with Mbokani scoring a second half winner, as they moved to the top of the Pro League, ten games in.

Ivan Leko has more of a healthy contingent to choose from after failing to fill their substitute bench last week, with only Alexis De Sart and Didier Lamkel Ze missing from the group of players who played regularly last season. Romelu Lukaku’s brother Jordan has joined on a season-long-loan from Lazio, but has still yet to feature after picking up an injury shortly after joining. Mbokani should return after serving a European suspension against Ludogorets.

Spurs Team News and Form:

Jose Mourinho is likely to tinker with his starting eleven once more for this European fixture after doing so last week in their 3-0 win over LASK in North London. Gareth Bale was given a first start in his second spell at the club, claiming the assist for Andres Andrade’s own goal, while Joe Hart, Erik Lamela and debutant Carlos Vinicius were given starts, with the latter impressing many because of his interchanging play which led to two assists.

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were both on the bench against LASK and despite Son coming on to score, it will be unlikely to see them used here in an away fixture, considering their recent trip to Burnley on Monday and subsequent match with Brighton on Sunday, Mourinho will be keen to utilise his squad depth as much as possible in order to avoid conflicting interests in either competition.

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Antwerp Last 5 Matches

  • Germinal Beerschot (H) 3-2 Pro League win
  • Ludogorets (A) 1-2 Europa League win
  • Zulte-Waregem (A) 1-3 Pro League win
  • Mechelen (H) 4-1 Pro League win
  • Kortrijk (A) 1-3 Pro League win

Spurs Last 5 Matches

  • Burnley (A) L-L Premier League
  • LASK (H) 3-0 Europa League win
  • West Ham (H) 3-3 Premier League draw
  • Manchester United (A) 1-6 Premier League win
  • Maccabi Haifa (H) 7-2 Europa League Qualifier win

Previous Matches

This will be a first ever meeting between the two clubs, but the last time Antwerp faced English opposition, Newcastle beat them heavily home and away in 1994, losing 10-2 on aggregate. Spurs have likewise had difficulty against Belgian clubs, winning just one of their last five. The most notable was crashing out of the competition in 2017 to Gent over two legs, a 2-2 draw at Wembley saw them eliminated after losing 1-0 in Belgium.

Source: Flashscore

Top Scorers

Antwerp Top Scorers

Dieumerci Mbokani (4 Goals) – The Congolese forward has had a wide-ranging career, but he has always produced his best form in Belgium, representing Anderlecht and Standard Liege, winning league titles with both, and he may have an outside chance with Antwerp too if they keep their current form up.

Lior Refaelov (4 Goals, 1 in Europe) – The Israeli is now 34, but is showing form on par to that which he showed for years with Club Brugge, where he spent seven seasons, and even though Antwerp love to share their goals all around the team, most attacking play goes through Refaelov, he is the main threat.

Spurs Top Scorers

Harry Kane (10 Goals, 5 in Europe) – Kane was unused against LASK, and it is not clear whether he will be used here, but his form in qualifying was ruthless, scoring important goals against Lokomotiv Plovdiv and Shkendija when Spurs ran into all sorts of trouble were just as impressive as his hat-trick against Maccabi Haifa in their 7-2 win.

Son Heung-min (9 Goals, 2 in Europe) – Son was used more sparingly in qualification but did score in his 30-minute cameo against LASK last week, but like Kane, may also start on the bench again in order to manage Spurs’ packed fixture list, after starting against Burnley.

Match Facts

  • This is the first ever meeting between the clubs
  • Antwerp were formerly a feeder club to Manchester United, with the likes of Johnny Evans and John O’Shea playing on loan there.
  • No player scored more goals in Europa League qualifying than Harry Kane.
  • This will be Spurs’ 13th scheduled fixture already, just six weeks into the season.

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Andrew’s Betting Tips

Over 2.5 Goals


The Belgian Pro League is often notorious for its high volume of goals, and Antwerp are no exceptions, in all competitions, there have been over 2.5 goals in all of their last seven matches and the same can be said about Spurs as that feat has been seen in seven of their last nine.

Spurs + BTTS


Spurs’ defensive frailties were brought to the forefront of discussions after capitulating at home to West Ham, throwing away a three goal lead to draw, and despite keeping their first clean sheet of the season’s at the 11th attempt against LASK, Antwerp will offer a greater attacking threat as opposed to the Austrians. But on paper, Spurs look capable of beating the Belgian league leaders, with Bale, Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius expected to start.

Lior Refaelov Anytime Scorer 14/5*

Lior Refaelov is the man in form and the talismanic figure in Antwerp’s attack, if they are to penetrate a leaky Spurs defence, expect the Israeli to play a key role in doing so. He also has a good eye from a set piece and being the side’s penalty taker and Spurs have conceded four penalties in their eight games.

*Odds as of time of writing (Monday 26th October 2020) and subject to change

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UEFA Europa League 2020/21 Groups G-L Preview: Can Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes and former side Celtic navigate awkward groups?

Europe’s second tier competition returns for its final season as a 48-team tournament before it is trimmed down to 32-team event next year, and we’re sure there will be just as many memorable moments and shocks that we’ve become accustomed to in the Europa League. In a bumper two-part preview, Andrew Delaney now looks at Groups G to L here.

Event details:

When does the Europa League start?

The group stage begins on Thursday 22nd October 2020

What is the Europa League schedule?

22/10/2020 – Matchday 1

29/10/2020 – Matchday 2

05/11/2020 – Matchday 3

26/11/2020 – Matchday 4

03/12/2020 – Matchday 5

10/12/2020 – Matchday 6

18/02/2021 & 25/02/2021 – Round of 32

11/03/2021 & 18/03/2021 – Round of 16

08/04/2021 & 15/04/2021 – Quarter-finals

29/04/2021 & 06/05/2021 – Semi-finals

26/05/2021 – Final

Where is the Europa League final taking place?

Stadion Energa Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland

Who won last season’s Europa League?

Sevilla won a record sixth Europa League title last season, defeating Inter Milan 3-2 in the final after also seeing off the likes of Manchester United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Roma in earlier rounds. They will compete in the Champions League this season thanks to their success in the competition.

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Europa League Group G:

Braga (Portugal):

Europa League regulars Braga take their place as top seeds of Group G, after a third place finish in Portugal last season, finishing above a lacklustre Sporting Lisbon, hoping to improve on last season’s Last 32 exit to Rangers, after leading 2-0 at Ibrox. Braga have added former Benfica star Nico Gaitan, who has declined since leaving Portugal for Atletico Madrid four years ago, but may flourish in his native country after underwhelming spells in China, France and the US.

Braga were finalists in this competition in 2011, losing an all-Portuguese final to Porto after defeating fellow compatriots Benfica in the semi-finals.

Leicester City (England):

Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester will be devastated at throwing away a huge points advantage to concede a top four spot to Manchester United at the end of the last season, but this is their first taste of European football since their infamous title-winning season of 2015/16. Jamie Vardy is still going strong at 33, finishing as Premier League top scorer, while the Foxes have also added Timothy Castagne from Atalanta and Cengiz Under from Roma.

This will be Leicester’s first ever appearance in the group stage of the competition, they lost in qualification on both previous occasions, to Atletico Madrid in 1997 and Red Star Belgrade in 2000.

AEK Athens (Greece):

After a turbulent start to the decade which saw AEK demoted to the third tier, the Athens-based club are now re-established as European regulars, qualifying for continental football every year since their return to the top flight in 2015/16. AEK have been extremely active in the transfer market, adding 11 new players for the new season, including Iranian international Karim Ansarifard, former-Wolves striker Bright Enobakhare and most notably, Muamer Tankovic, who had an excellent season in Sweden last year.

AEK shocked German side Wolfsburg to make the group stage, winning 2-1 in Athens.

Zorya Luhansk (Ukraine):

Despite coming nowhere close to stopping the duopoly of Ukrainian football held by Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev, Zorya have now finished in the European places in each of the last seven seasons. Sadly, the residents of Luhansk must travel over six hours to Zaporizhia to see home games after artillery destroyed their home stadium in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

Before their seven consecutive Europa League appearances, Zorya only qualified for Europe once, in 1973, after being shock winners of the Soviet First Division, granting them a place in the old European Cup.

Europa League Group H:

Celtic (Scotland):

After making it nine in a row in Scotland last season, Celtic have not enjoyed a great start to the season, losing at home to Ferencvaros in Champions League qualifying and then losing to Rangers in the first Old Firm derby of the season, sees them four point off the pace, and having to settle for a season in the Europa League. Neil Lennon has added notable loan signings in Shane Duffy and Diego Laxalt, while also bringing in Albian Ajeti permanently from West Ham. Keeping hold of Odsonne Edouard may also be crucial to their season.

This is the third season in a row they have dropped into the Europa League after failing in Champions League qualifying, losing to Cluj and AEK Athens in the previous seasons.

Sparta Prague (Czech Republic):

Despite being arguably the most recognisable name in Czech football, Sparta Prague went a sixth season without a title last season, finishing a massive 25 points behind local rivals Slavia. Sparta welcome back Ladislav Krejci, four years after leaving the club for Serie A, and former Slavia defender Ondrej Celustka, but they have lost Zimbabwean defender Costa Nhamoinesu to Indian football.

Sparta have rivals Slavia to thank for their instant group stage qualification, the performance of Slavia in Europe has granted the Czech Republic a higher coefficient ranking, meaning Sparta did not need to qualify, after losing in the qualifiers three years running.

AC Milan (Italy):

An outstanding run of form since football’s restart in June catapulted Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan up into the Europa League places, having been outsiders to make the top six after a very underwhelming start to the Serie A campaign. Big wins over Juventus, Lazio and Roma came on a run which has seen them unbeaten since the league restarted, spanning 20 matches. The signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has coincided with the sudden upturn in fortunes for the Milanese side, and at the age of 39, the Swedish maverick is proving he can still perform in Europe, after a brief spell in the MLS.

The Rossoneri had to battle through a marathon penalty shootout with Rio Ave to reach the group stage, winning on the 12th round of kicks, but their seven year wait for a Champions League appearance goes on.

Lille (France):

French club Lille round off a very difficult looking group for all involved, as Les Dogues arguably have just as tough a group as they had in the Champions League last season. Lille received a club-record fee for Striker Victor Osimhen off Napoli, and have replaced him with promising Canadian Jonathan David, as he will join another two Jonathan’s, Ikone and Bamba, in the Lille attack.

Lille were also drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ in their last appearance in the competition in 2014/15, when they faced Everton, Wolfsburg and Krasnodar.

Europa League Group I:

Villarreal (Spain):

A side delighted to have avoided any lower seeded big boys are Villarreal, and depending on how seriously Unai Emery will take the competition, it looks relatively straight-forward for his new club. Club legend Santi Cazorla has left for the Middle East after a successful second spell at the club, but the signing of Dani Parejo on a free from Valencia is one of the best pieces of business made by any side in Europe this summer. He joins a squad already containing Spanish duo Paco Alcacer and Gerard Moreno, both capped internationally recently, and Japanese prodigy Takefusa Kubo, who has joined on loan from Real Madrid.

The Yellow Submarine have a 100% record in progressing through from the Europa League group stage.

Qarabag (Azerbaijan):

The club from the uninhabited Agdam made it seven Azeri titles in a row last season, despite playing over 200 miles away in Baku at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium, named after ‘that’ linesman from the 1966 World Cup final, because of the troubles in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which left their hometown destroyed. Qarabag lost the influential pair of Richard Almeida and Dani Quintana last season, but Azeri international Mahir Emreli is their new danger man in attack.

This is the seventh season running where Qarabag have continued their European run into the Autumn, but none were more memorable than drawing home and away with Atletico Madrid in 2017.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv (Israel):

The champions of Israel won three rounds of Champions League qualifying only to be knocked out in the playoff by RB Salzburg this season, meaning it is now five years since they last made the group stage of the competition. Journeyman Nick Blackman, born in Salford, is the main goalscorer for the side, alongside former Swansea loanee Itay Shechter.

Maccabi suffered two embarrassing defeats in the last two seasons which saw them knocked out of the Europa League, losing to Suduva Marijampole of Lithuania and Sarpsborg of Norway.

Sivasspor (Turkey): 

Sivasspor took advantage of the calamitous seasons of the Istanbul elite in Turkey, being the nation’s only representative, after Fenerbahce failed to even make the qualifiers and Besiktas and Galatasaray fell to Rio Ave and Rangers, respectively. Former Premier League players Arouna Kone and Max Gradel are the key players for Riza Calimbay’s side and will need to perform well if they stand a chance in this Europa League group.

This is Sivasspor’s debut in the group stage of a European competition, despite coming second in Turkey in 2009, they lost in qualifying in both competitions.

Europa League Group J:

Tottenham Hotspur (England):

Just months after reaching the Champions League final, Tottenham sacked Mauricio Pochettino after some woeful results, including that 7-2 drubbing by Bayern Munich. Jose Mourinho came in and led Spurs to a sixth place finish, pipping Wolves to a Europa League spot on the last day. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min are the side’s major threats, but they have also drafted Gareth Bale into what could be an unstoppable attack.

Two-time winners Tottenham were given a scare in the second qualifying round, losing with ten minutes to go against Lokomotiv Plovdiv, they came back to beat the 9-men late on.

Ludogorets (Bulgaria):

After gaining promotion to the Bulgarian top-flight in 2011, Ludogorets won the title at the first attempt, and have remarkably won every title since, and becoming European regulars, playing in their sixth group stage in seven seasons. The spine of the team have been constant for many years now, Vladislav Stoyanov in goal, Cosmin Moti at the back, Wanderson in midfield and Claudiu Keseru up front.

When they qualified for their Champions League debut in 2014/15, Moti went in goal after Stoyanov was sent off against Steaua Bucharest in the playoff, making a match-winning save in the resulting penalty shootout.

LASK (Austria):

LASK only finished fourth domestically last season, but they went further in Europe than any other Austrian club, technically still in the Europa League for the finale in August even though the tie was over after losing the home leg of their Last 16 clash with Manchester United, 5-0. Marko Raguz got five goals in Europe but overall top scorer Joao Klauss has returned to Hoffenheim, the signing of Maximilian Eggestein from Werder Bremen is a notable income.

LASK won 4-1 away to Sporting Lisbon to qualify, arguably the most impressive result in the round, after also beating them 3-0 in the group stage last season.

Antwerp (Belgium):

Despite losing their status as a regular top division club in Belgium recently, Antwerp were shock Belgian Cup winners and were rewarded with a maiden Europa League group stage spot. Lior Refaelov and Dieumerci Mbokani, both 34, are fully fledged top-flight Belgian league players, spending nearly a decade each in the country, and are the two key players for Antwerp in attack.

This will be their first appearance in any European competition since the mid-1990s.

Europa League Group K:

CSKA Moscow (Russia):

An underwhelming season in Russia saw CSKA finish fourth, 22 points behind champions Zenit, but they still qualified for a 19th consecutive European campaign. Two of Russia’s 2018 World Cup heroes Igor Akinfeev and Mario Fernandes are still going strong into their 30s, while the main offensive threat comes via former-Everton man Nikola Vlasic.

CSKA were the first Russian side to win a major European competition when they won the UEFA Cup in 2005, defeating Sporting Lisbon in the final.

Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia):

The capital club made it 14 titles in 15 seasons, as Dinamo Zagreb finished 15 points ahead of city rivals Lokomotiva in Croatia last season. They have lost Josko Gvardiol for big money to Leipzig, but the stream of Croatian youngsters always come through from Dinamo so he will likely be replaced by another academy product while internationals Bruno Petkovic and Mislav Orsic are the two danger men.

After not seeing much European football when part of Yugoslavia, Dinamo have been regulars recently, including five Champions League group stage appearances in the last nine years. They will settle for Europa League action this season.

Feyenoord (Netherlands):

After a brief spell in mid-table obscurity a decade ago, Feyenoord once more look like a side worthy of competing with the big boys of Dutch football, Ajax and PSV, finishing above the latter last season. Dutch international Steven Berghuis has six in five league games already and the captain is the man to watch, but look out for Orkun Kokcu, who could make a breakthrough this season at 19.

Feyenoord have a rich history in Europe, with a European Cup and two UEFA Cup’s in the cabinet, most recently winning in 2002 over Dortmund.

Wolfsberger (Austria):

One of last year’s debutants in this competition, Wolfsberger of Austria, makes another appearance this time around, going further than their German namesakes who lost in qualifying. Serbian youngster Dejan Joveljic has arrived on loan from Frankfurt and will be the goal threat, already bagging two in his first four for his new club.

Wolfsberger achieved a stunning 4-0 win away to Borussia Monchengladbach in the group stage last season, that being their only win in a very tough group which also included Roma and Istanbul Basaksehir.

Europa League Group L:

Gent (Belgium):

Gent may be a long way away from the side that miraculously made the knockout stages of the Champions League five years ago, but they were the second best team in Belgium last season, finishing above the likes of Genk, Standard Liege and Anderlecht. Wim De Decker has lost key man Jonathan David for a big fee and didn’t replace him with a new signing, but they do have Giorgi Chakvetadze to pull the strings and Ukrainian international Roman Yaremchuk up front.

Gent played an eye-watering 14 Europa League games last season and still only made it to the Last 32, losing out to Roma.

Red Star Belgrade (Serbia):

After back-to-back bottom place finishes in Champions League groups, Red Star are back in the Europa League, despite being champions of Serbia, after suffering a shock defeat to Omonia in qualifying. El Fardou Ben Nabouhane and Diego Falcinelli have both started in great scoring form and Aleksandar Katai has joined on a free after being released by LA Galaxy after his wife made some unsavory comments on social media, forcing the club to terminate his contract, despite being a top performer for previous club Chicago Fire.

Red Star were European Cup winners in 1991 and made headlines more recently for beating Liverpool in Belgrade during their Champions League winning campaign two seasons ago.

Hoffenheim (Germany):

After a year away, Hoffenheim are back on the European scene, this time in the Europa League thanks to a sixth place finish in the Bundesliga. Striker Andrej Kramaric has been in sensational form since the back end of the last season, scoring 13 times in his last six competitive games for the side, including a brace in their eyebrow-raising 4-1 win over European champions Bayern Munich in September. Hoffenheim have also added Ryan Sessegnon and Sebastian Rudy on loan from Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke respectively, to bolster what is already a very exciting side.

In what has been a slightly turbulent spell for the club, qualifying for Europe for a third time in four years though, suggests that Hoffenheim are becoming one of the regular clubs challenging the big boys in Germany.

Slovan Liberec (Czech Republic):

In a unique league system, Slovan had to beat Mlada Boleslav in a 5-team playoff tournament in the Czech Republic just to enter the second qualifying round of the Europa League, but to their credit, they came through all qualifying rounds successfully. Former Juventus man Jakub Hromada may be key in midfield as one of two loanees from Slavia Prague, the other being current top scorer Abdulla Yusuf.

This is their first appearance since 2016, when they finished bottom and were eliminated.

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