Plzen worth Europa punt

  • By: David John (Twitter: @SLifeDaveJohn)
  • Last Updated: March 20 2014, 20:10 GMT

David John is keen on the chances of Plzen to beat Lyon on Thursday night in the Europa League.

Plzen can get a win on the night against Lyon
Plzen can get a win on the night against Lyon

It is crunch time for all three of our Europa League outright tips with the second leg of the round of 16 ties on Thursday night.

Napoli have home advantage as they try and overcome a one-goal deficit against Porto, Red Bull Salzburg shared a 0-0 draw with Basel before heading to Austria while AZ Alkmaar defend a 1-0 lead over Anzhi in Russia.

So all of them could go either way and I will watch on with interest but the one side who look worth supporting are Plzen when they host Lyon.

Plzen managed to get their noses in front early last week but a three-goal salvo inside 17 minutes after the break left them on the brink of exit and they trail 4-1.

While expecting them to turn on the style and sweep into the last eight with a majestic display of attacking verve might be stretching things, the away goal does give them a glimmer of hope and a 3-0 success at the Doosan Arena would be good enough.

They have managed to prevail by a three-goal advantage on six occasions already this season while I would also be encouraged by the way they ousted former winners Shakhtar Donetsk over two legs in the last round.

Lyon's grasp on a Champions League berth for next season seems to be slipping and they are now eight points behind third-placed Lille in Ligue 1.

So the focus has now switched towards the knockout events with an extended run in this competition and a French League Cup final against Paris St Germain on the horizon.

But Remi Garde's men remain relatively youthful and inexperienced as the games pile up and although it would be a shock to see them fluff their lines at 1/25 and not get through, I can see the hosts at least making a horse race of it on the night at 7/5.

Tottenham continue to spiral out of control under Tim Sherwood and were clear second best to Benfica at White Hart Lane.

Morale will have been chipped away even more with the 1-0 home defeat over the weekend in the North London derby and I would not be tempted at all on current evidence to back them at the best part of 5/1 for a win in Portugal.

Fiorentina did catch my eye somewhat at 14/5 as they certainly have a fighting chance on their own patch against Juventus.

Mario Gomez has returned from a lengthy injury absence with a couple of goals already and he will lead the line again but getting the better of a Juve side unbeaten in 11 and have Carlos Tevez back is just a shade optimistic.

  • Posted at 1100 GMT on 19/03/2014.