With a place in next season’s Champions League up for grabs, the 48 teams getting their Europa League campaigns up and running this week will have their sights on winning it. Manchester United won this competition in 2017, while Arsenal were beaten finalists last season. Both may have to settle for this route into the Champions League if they fail to finish in the Premier League’s top four.
Wolves are experiencing European football for the first time since the 1980/81 season when they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup in the first round by PSV Eindhoven. All three will hope for a successful passage through their respective groups and into the knock-out stages where they will be joined by the third-placed teams exiting the Champions League. Charlie Mullan picks out four-fold accumulators from the opening games in this season’s Europa League competition.
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BTTS: Eintracht Frankfurt v Arsenal, Wolves v Braga, Rangers v Feyernoord, Standard Liege v Vitoria Guimaraes
Arsenal (13/10) travel to Germany to face an Eintracht Frankfurt side hoping to get off to a winning start in the Europa League. Arsenal, beaten by Chelsea in last season’s final, have drawn their last two Premier League games 2-2 by coming from 2-0 down at neighbours Spurs to earn a point and then blowing a 2-0 lead in their draw with Watford on Sunday.
BTTS has landed in four of Arsenal’s five league games this season while the last three Bundesliga matches Frankfurt (2/1) have played have seen goals for both them and their opponents. The Gunners are 27/10 to win with goals for both sides while Frankfurt are 15/4 to claim the win while conceding at least one goal to their opponents. A score draw is available with SportPesa at 29/10.
Wolves (20/33) have made it to the group stage of the Europa League at the expense of a solid start in the Premier League. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have not won a Premier League game this season with a total of three points from a possible 15 to sit 19th in the table. Saturday’s 5-2 defeat at home to Chelsea was the fourth successive game in which BTTS has landed in their league games.
In their final qualifying round to reach the group stage, Wolves beat Torino 3-2 and 2-1 highlighting their ability to score goals and concede at the other end. They face Braga (19/4) in their opening group game with Wolves 27/10 to win with BTTS landing while the visitors to Molineux are 10/1 to win with goals for both teams.
Rangers (6/5) have only lost once in the Scottish Premier League, but that was to arch rivals Celtic at Ibrox last month. Their opening Europa League group game against Feyernoord is the first in what looks to be a very challenging group that includes Porto and Young Boys. Winning their home games will be key to Steven Gerrard’s side through to the knockout stage so this could be a tough opener for the Glasgow side.
Feyenoord sit seventh in the Dutch Eredivisie with nine points from their first five games thanks to their 3-2 win at home to Den Hagg who pulled back a 3-0 deficit with two goals in the final 15 minutes at the weekend. Rangers, who came from a goal down to beat Livingston 3-1 on Saturday, are 33/10 to win with BTTS occurring while Feyernoord are 5/1 to win with goals for both sides.
Standard Liege (5/6) host Vitoria Guimaraes (16/5) having played seven games in the Belgian top flight. Liege are the early season leaders with 15 points thanks to their 4-1 at Oostende on Saturday which was the fourth time in their last five league game where BTTS has landed. Guimaraes’ 5-1 home win over Desportivo Aves was their fourth league game from five in which both teams managed to find the net. Liege are 27/10 to win this group game with BTTS landing while the Portuguese side are 27/4 to win with goals for both teams.
2.5+: Man Utd v Astana, Rennes v Celtic, PSV Eindhoven v Sporting Lisbon, Porto v Young Boys
Manchester United (4/19) know better than most the importance of winning this competition, as it was through the Europa League that allowed them to take part in last season’s Champions League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are expected to beat the Kazakhstan side especially at Old Trafford although the one-time fear factor of playing at the Theatre of Dreams has gone.
If United get an early goal, there could be more than three in total as they look to build on Saturday’s 1-0 league win over Leicester. Astana (14/1) should not be underestimated though. They have won their last three games which have produced three or more goals in each of them. They have nothing to lose at Old Trafford and could make the most of any defensive errors made by United’s defence. United are 2/3 to win with over 2.5 total goals scored in their opening group game while Astana, who managed a 2-0 win over Rennes in last season’s competition, are 27/1 to win and over 2.5 total goals scored.
Rennes (23/20) start as favourites over Celtic (49/20) when they get their Europa League campaign up and running in France. This will be Rennes’ third home game this season and in the previous two, there has been three or more goals scored. Celtic reached the group stage with a comfortable 4-1 win at IAK Solna and if Neil Lennon’s side are in the mood, they could maintain their record of scoring in every game they have played this season.
This will be their 15th game and the Bhoys have already scored a total of 42 goals. The Scottish champions are 5/1 to return from France with the win in a game with at least three total goals scored while their hosts are 27/10 to win and over 2.5 total goals scored.
PSV Eindhoven (5/6) are well fancied to get their Europa League group campaign up and running with a win in their opener against Sporting Lisbon (59/20). Both teams have been involved in high-scoring games in recent weeks. Eindhoven’s 5-0 home win over Vitesse Arnhem not only kept them joint top of the Eredivisie with Ajax, it was also the third time in their last four league games in which three or more total goals were scored.
Five of the seven games Lisbon have played so far this season have produced a minimum of three goals, and they are 19/4 to win the game with over 2.5 total goals scored while PSV are 6/4 to win with at least three total goals scored.
Porto (1/2) perhaps weren’t expecting to be playing in Europe’s secondary competition after they won their final qualifier for the Champions League 1-0 at Krasnodar. But the Russian side stunned the former champions of Europe 3-2 to send the Portuguese side into the Europa League.
Home advantage should see Porto to a home win against Young Boys (11/2) who beat Juventus 2-1 in last season’s Champions League group stage. Porto are 6/5 to get off to a winning start in a game with three or more total goals, while Young Boys are 10/1 to return to Switzerland with the win with over 2.5 total goals scored.