Hull poised for a long night
Ben Coley previews Thursday's action in the Europa League, with Hull fans set to endure a tense evening.
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Hull and Spurs are in action again on Thursday night as the Europa League play-offs come to a conclusion.
For the latter, qualification should be a stroll after they came from behind to beat AEL Limassol 2-1 in Cyprus.
Mauricio Pochettino's side are just 1/5 to win the second leg and as short as 1/500 to qualify, so extracting value from a game which they should win but can afford to draw is not a straightforward task.
The Premier League's earliest pacesetters look set to be a real force both domestically and in Europe under the care of Pochettino, and while it didn't work out last week I would expect them to build their success on clean sheets - 4/6 that they win to nil is a very obvious starting point here.
Similarly, backing them in the half-time/full-time market makes a lot of sense after their stunning first-half display against QPR, but this is another obvious angle which has surely been priced correctly at 4/6.
One concern for Spurs is the absence of Roberto Soldado, who would surely have led the line. In his absence it's worth considering Harry Kane in the anytime scorer market at around even-money while 4/1 that he scores first looks fair, too.
However, all of these suggestions are for those who want a bet while they're watching the game and nothing more - in truth, even in this modern world and its myriad of wagering opportunities I'm struggling to get enthused about a one-sided contest.
Hull's game carries with it a good deal more intrigue as a late mistake from Allan McGregor leaves them with a deficit to overturn against Lokeren, whose European experience helped them to a 1-0 win on home soil.
The Belgian outfit don't travel particularly well and Steve Bruce's side should, in theory, be good enough at least to send this tie to extra-time.
The layers can't call it, with Lokeren shading favouritism in the qualification market by only the narrowest of margins, and the only way this tie can surprise is if the over 3.5 goals option paid out.
We know already that Hull have little in the way of attacking threat even if Bruce decides to start Nikica Jelavic in place of Yannick Sagbo, who spurned a couple of chances before being replaced by his more prolific counterpart last week.
So far this season they've scored four goals in five games and the absence of support from midfield means that Jelavic, if he does get the nod, is comfortably their biggest threat - to the extent that a Jelavic/Hull 1-0 scorecast is probably worth a play for those seeking a small-stakes interest.
Certainly, a 1-0 win for Hull - one which would force extra-time - appeals as by far the most likely outcome. Lokeren have yet to register an away goal this season but they're wily enough to limit Hull's opportunities on what could be a tense night on the east coast.
You can back Hull to win to nil at 11/8 while it's even worth considering the combined 9/1 about penalties being required, but I prefer the correct score option at this stage. If Jelavic does get the nod, he's a bet to score first.
Of the other ties, it'll be fascinating to see how Lyon get on in their bid to overturn a 2-1 deficit at Astra Giurgiu.
The Romanian outfit scored twice in the closing 20 minutes to turn this tie on its head and are 2/7 to qualify at the expense of the vastly more experienced Lyon, who can be backed at 11/4.
Belarusian side Shakhtyor Salihorsk are in with a fighting chance having worked hard for a 1-0 defeat at PSV Eindhoven and an early goal there could make things very interesting, while Rio Ave and Rapid Vienna are two favourites who have deficits to overturn.
All in all, it's a night to observe but extra-time at the KC is a very real possibility.
- Preview posted at 1935 on 27/08/2014