Paul Higham looks at Thursday's action in the Europa League, including home games for Manchester United and Wolves.
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Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade
For every silver lining there’s seemingly a cloud for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as he strung three away wins together after a draw with Liverpool before being brought back to down with a bump in a listless defeat at Bournemouth.
That defeat does kind of have a knock-on effect to this game as, sitting ten points off the top four, the Europa League may just be their only route back into Europe’s top table in the Champions League.
There’s been no fine dining at Old Trafford this season though, or in this competition in general, with the Red Devils scoring just twice in three games against pretty ordinary competition, but still being able to book a knockout place with a win over the Serbians.
That win should come as the 2/5 favourites but it’s unlikely to be entertaining as they have not scored more than once in a game at home since the 4-0 win over Chelsea on the opening day of the season. The magical 2.5 goal tally has also only been broken four times all season.
Injuries and important league fixtures mean Solskjaer will again give his youngsters a chance, so Mason Greenwood is worth watching as he could well decide it in similar fashion to the Astana game.
But with goals in such short supply, and with United pretty much guaranteed to win, doubling up the win with a low goals total seems the sensible option.
Wolves v Slovan Bratislava
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have recovered well from losing at home to Braga in this competition – but that’s just one of two defeats in 21 at Molineux in all competitions, and adding another win here would put them within touching distance of the knockouts.
The Slovakian league leaders showed in the reverse fixture that they were no mugs though – they are still very much in this competition and are a dangerous outfit, having netted 37 goals in 14 league games and have found the back of the net in 31 games in a row in all competitions.
There’s been 13 goals in Slovan’s three Europa League group games so far, so over 2.5 goals in this one looks a distinct possibility, but with a bit more value, take Slovan Bratislava to find the net, as they always seems to do.
They have got the firepower needed to score at Molineux, and with Wolves big favourites to win, both teams to score is the pick of the bets for this one.
Rangers v Porto
Their 1-1 draw in Portugal was arguably Steven Gerrard’s best result as Rangers boss to date, but getting a win over the experienced Portuguese side would top that, and you just know Ibrox will be reckon with hope and expectation of earning a famous victory.
Alfredo Morelos has bagged ten goals in this competition, including the leveller at the Estadio do Dragao, and that sees Porto in third in the group behind Rangers and Young Boys – meaning this could well be a decider.
Porto will come with plenty of ability and are marginal favourites but the confidence Rangers took from the game in Portugal and the home crowd could make all the ingredients for a famous European night in Glasgow.
It promises to be quite an occasion, and one where the hosts could just make a big statement.
Best bet: Rangers to beat Porto at 13/8
Odds correct as of 1133pm on 6/11/19
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