The group stages of the Europa League get underway on Thursday night. Tom Carnduff picks out three best bets to consider.
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
Qarabag v Sevilla
Our outright tip for success in this competition get their campaign underway at the earlier time of 17:55 BST away at Qarabag.
Sevilla currently top LaLiga after a fine start in Spain and will be full of confidence as they head into a group that should cause them little issues.
As explained in outright preview, a positive summer of change for Sevilla should put them in a great position in Europe:
This summer has been one of big change for Sevilla and it puts them in a strong position to claim back what seems to be rightfully theirs.
They've seen Wissam Ben Yender, Luis Muriel, Quincy Promes and Pablo Sarabia all depart for fees of above €15m and they were unafraid to reinvest that money on replacements.
Rony Lopes, a winger from Monaco, and Bordeaux's Jules Kounde were the headline signings after joining for a combined €50m fee.
Los Rojiblancos also welcomed Diego Carlos, Moanes Dabour and Joan Jordan among the 15 players that made the switch to Sevilla in the summer.
In total, the Spanish side spent over €156m in this window. It's put them in an incredibly strong position and it's why they've started the new LaLiga campaign with two wins and a draw.
One of those players mentioned is Jordan, who has already struck two times from central midfield in LaLiga.
Not only does he pose a threat from open play, but the midfielder also has a strong ability from set-pieces and will be trusted with Sevilla's chances from close range.
At a price of 15/4, it's worth backing Jordan to score in 90 minutes as opposed to the huge odds-on price on an away victory.
Best bet: Joan Jordan to score anytime at 15/4
- This will be the first ever competitive meeting between FK Qarabag and Sevilla.
- Qarabag’s only previous meetings with Spanish opposition ended in draws, holding
- Atletico Madrid 0-0 and 1-1 in the 2017-18 Champions League group stage.
- Sevilla have lost three of their last five away Europa League matches (W2), more than they had in their previous 11 on the road in the competition (W4 D5 L2).
- FK Qarabag have lost each of their last four home Europa League games, including all three group stage games last season.
- Sevilla were the highest scorers in the Europa League group stages last season, netting 18 goals.
Rennes v Celtic
Another side fancied for a strong Europa League campaign is Rennes. They line-up in Group E alongside Lazio, Cluj and Thursday's opponents Celtic.
They welcome the Scottish champions to Roazhon Park on the back of a 0-0 draw away in Brest last time out, but they will still fancy their chances of victory in front of their own supporters.
Celtic may have dominated on the domestic front, but their away efforts in the Europa League last season left a lot to be desired.
They were successful in their group stage clash away at Rosenborg, but were beaten by Salzburg, Leipzig and then Valencia.
Their best chance of progression will come from victories at home, and the same applies to Rennes, which is why the value is with the home team at a price of odds-against.
We have Rennes as group winners here and a price of 9/2 is still available on them to do so. As explained in our outright preview:
Rennes secured a spot in Europe with success in the Coupe de France - beating Lille and Lyon en route to the final where they saw off Paris Saint-Germain on penalties.
They've also started the new campaign in good fashion with three wins from four. Much like last season's Cup final, they have got the better of PSG with a 2-1 victory in mid-August.
They may have lost Ismaila Sarr to Watford over the summer, but they've reinvested the money gained from that sale to bring in players throughout the squad.
The forward positions have benefited the most with two new wingers and a striker joining in the window. The headline addition being Raphinha from Sporting, a right winger who had direct involvement in 12 goals last season despite his young age.
M'Baye Niang will lead the attack having swapped Torino for France. The striker has hit the ground running with two goals in four games; complimenting the 14 he netted in Italy during 2018/19.
Flavien Tait will also add options to the attack. He had a hand in 14 goals last season for Angers in Ligue 1. Primarily a left-winger, the 26-year-old can also play a central role when required.
Best bet: Rennes to win at 6/5
- Rennes are winless in both of their previous meetings with Celtic, drawing 1-1 at home and losing 1-3 away in the 2011-12 Europa League group stages.
- Celtic are winless in their last seven away European games against French opposition (D2 L5) since beating Nantes 3-1 in the 1966-67 European Cup last 16, en route to winning the trophy.
- Including qualifiers, Rennes have lost just one of their last 15 home games in European competition (W8 D6), going down 1-2 against Dynamo Kiev in last season’s Europa League group stage.
- In Champions League and Europa League games combined, Celtic have won just three of their 45 away group stage games (W3 D11 L31), with one of those victories coming in last season’s competition (1-0 at Rosenborg).
- Celtic’s James Forrest has scored in each of his last four games in European competition this season, including betting in both legs of their Europa League qualifying victory against AIK.
Espanyol v Ferencvaros
If you're looking at a game with goals for those 8pm accumulators then consider Espanyol's clash with Ferencvaros.
The Spanish side's last six European matches have seen over 2.5 goals, with both teams possessing prolific scorers in this competition so far in Facundo Ferreyra and Tokmac Nguen.
Only two players managed to score more than Espanyol's Ferreyra in qualifying, scoring six goals as the LaLiga outfit made the group stages.
Ferencvaros also had to come through qualifying in order to reach this stage. Nguen, a midfielder, scored four goals during those games.
Four of Espanyol's last five at home have seen over 2.5 goals in the game - while all three of their Europa League home games so far saw three or more.
For Ferencvaros, their last two away games in the Hungarian league have brought at least four goals in them, with both teams scoring in three of their four European qualifiers away.
The ingredients are all there for plenty of goals in this one. With players capable of finding the net, backing both teams to score with over 3.5 goals in the contest is the route to go down here.
- This will be Espanyol’s first ever meeting with Hungarian opposition.
- Ferencvaros last faced Spanish opposition in the 1995-96 Champions League group stage, losing 1-6 away and drawing 1-1 at home with Real Madrid.
- Espanyol won five of their six Europa League qualifiers this season (D1), scoring 18 goals in the process (3 per game). This is their first appearance in a major European competition since the 2006-07 UEFA Cup, when they were losing finalists against Sevilla.
- This is Ferencvaros’ first appearance in a major European competition since the 2004- 05 UEFA Cup, when they were eliminated at the group stage (W1 D1 L2).
- Espanyol’s Facundo Ferreyra scored in all five of his European qualifying appearances this season, netting six goals in total.
Odds correct at 1515 BST (17/09/19)
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