Jan the man for Spurs
Ben Linfoot previews Thursday's night's Europa League quarter-finals involving the Premier League sides.
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With four Europa League quarter-final second legs on Thursday night, three featuring Premier League teams, a few bets and a bit of channel hopping could be in order for many of us.
- 0.5pts e.w Jan Vertonghen to score first v Basel at 22/1 (Bet365, 1/3 1-98) - seven this season, one of best finishers in likely line-up with Bale and Defoe out
- 1pt Rubin Kazan and Chelsea to draw at 12/5 (General) - with Chelsea in the driving seat this could be a low-scoring encounter and stalemate a big player
- 1pt Papiss Cisse to score anytime v Benfica at 11/5 (BetVictor, Paddy Power) - Magpies should give it a good go and in-form Cisse can be talisman again
First up, Basle face Tottenham and it's evenly poised following a 2-2 first leg in North London where the Swiss side raced into a 2-0 lead.
Emmanuel Adebayor and Gylfi Sigurdsson got Spurs back in the tie that night and those two will be vital to their cause once again with Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe all missing.
With key players missing, it's going to be a tough task for Spurs as Basle are very solid at home. The Swiss team have not lost a match at home since last August, winning 12 of the 15 matches at St Jakob Park in that period.
Basle have also conceded only four goals in their last eight Europa League matches, but Spurs, of course, scored two of those and I do fancy Andre Villas-Boas' team to score in Switzerland.
Tottenham have scored in nine of their last 10 Europa League games and even with Bale out you have to fancy them to get on the scoresheet once again.
And the player that appeals most in the goalscorer markets is Jan Vertonghen who is priced up at 22/1 with bet365 to score first.
The centre-half has scored seven goals this season, five of them were Spurs' first goal (four of them the first in the match) and he'll be one of Tottenham's best finishers on the pitch at Basle with Bale and Defoe missing.
He looks worth a bet each-way for the first with bet365 going 1/3 the odds and unlimited places.
Over in Russia, the draw looks a big player in Rubin Kazan v Chelsea at 12/5.
Rafael Benitez has been a master at getting the right result in Europe throughout his managerial career and, 3-1 up from the first leg, a comfortable draw is all that is required here.
I think Benitez will set Chelsea up so they're extremely difficult to break down and I'd expect the Blues to knock the ball around between themselves whenever they can.
Goals should be at a premium - under 2.5 is understandably as short as 8/13 - with 0-0 and 1-1 big players in the correct score market.
All three of Rubin's home group games were played in Kazan and they won all three, including against Inter Milan, but the knockout matches have taken place in Moscow and without a hostile home crowd they're less of a threat.
However, wherever they play at home they defend well, conceding just three times in their last eight European home matches. Though they'll be vulnerable to a Chelsea counter-attack, seven clean sheets in the competition tells you they can defend.
The draw is the outsider of three in this one, and, while that's understandable, I'm happy to wager the most unlikely result is the one that comes in.
Finally, Newcastle will try to overcome a 3-1 deficit against tournament second-favourites Benfica at St James's Park.
It's a task that's likely to be beyond them, but with Premier League safety looking likely following their last-gasp win over Fulham I fancy them to give it a good go.
Papiss Cisse got the vital winner at the weekend and with four goals in his last six the Magpies talisman will be brimming with confidence.
And at 11/5 he appeals to get on the scoresheet once again for Alan Pardew's side.