By: Joe Brunk (@_JoeyB23)
I am back again after an exciting Round of 32 to preview the next set of fixtures. Let’s take a look at the Round of 16 matchups in the Europa League. I will take you through four of them in each article and give you a brief preview of this draw. We only have eight matchups to get to this time; so let’s jump right in!
It is also important to note that if you are gambling on these games, make sure to check and see which games have spectators and which don’t, as the lack of fans will definitely influence some of these games.
LASK vs Manchester United
We start off with an underwhelming matchup that should see United advance past this Austrian side. LASK beat AZ fairly convincingly in the last round with an aggregate score of 3-1. United used a dominant second leg to advance past Club Brugge with an aggregate score of 6-1. I would not be surprised to see a similar score line after these fixtures are finished.
United have been in top form recently, coming off a huge win this past weekend over their cross-town rivals, Manchester City. They are hitting their stride at the exact right time, but they will now square off against the new hot team out of Austria. LASK has been playing great football all season, in both their domestic league and in the European league. It is a shame they have to play against this United squad in this round because they could have definitely advanced against a number of the other teams still left in this round. Don’t be surprised to see LASK get a few past this United defense, but they will have a hard time stopping United from scoring as well.
The bookies make LASK a hefty underdog with a price of +300 to advance, and you will have to lay -400 with United if you want to back them to advance. I would expect to see a similar strategy employed by United in this set of fixtures as they used in the last round against Club Brugge. United will look to make it a cagey low scoring affair in the away fixture and then unleash their offense at home in the second fixture. While I might be rooting for LASK to advance, I don’t give them much chance.
Frankfurt vs Basel
Of the four matches in this preview, I think this one has the most intrigue behind it. Frankfurt dismantled Salzburg in the Round of 32 while Basel pushed aside APOEL with ease. Both these teams come in on the backs of strong campaigns through the Europa league and will look to continue to the next round.
Basel did not allow a goal through their two legs against APOEL, which is impressive even against weaker competition. Their defense will face a much tougher task trying to contain the explosive attack from Frankfurt. Frankfurt have not had the strongest Bundesliga season so far this year, but they will look to continue their glory in the Europa league against Basel. They shouldn’t have too much of a problem against this Basel team, but you never know what might happen in the Europa League.
Frankfurt are heavy favorites, listed at -275 to advance. You can take Basel at +175 to advance to the Round of 16. There looks to be some value on Basel with such a high price, as I have no interest in laying the juice to take Frankfurt at -275 to advance. I’m not saying I think Basel will advance here, but I think they will play Frankfurt much closer than this line suggests. Look for Basel to make this a competitive tie against the German team.
Sevilla vs Roma
Roma just announced that they are not travelling to Sevilla for their away match in Spain, and no announcement has been made over when this leg will be played.
This is another intriguing matchup with two teams who have not been in their best form the last few months. Sevilla was lucky to advance past Cluj, needing VAR to help overturn a last-minute goal that would have seen them knocked out. Roma barely squeaked by Gent and you could argue Roma were outplayed and the less deserving side.
Sevilla has seen a small uptick in their form more recently earning a 2-2 draw against Atletico Madrid over the weekend. Roma has also seen an uptick in their form, picking up two wins in their last two matches after a bad run of form. With Serie A suspending all their matches for the month, Roma may have a small bit of an advantage having more rest in between the two legs.
Sevilla are priced at -110 to advance and Roma are given a small advantage, listed at a price of -120. We may see two cagey affairs between these two teams who tend to play more cautiously. Both these matches will be very close and it is hard to pick a winner from these two teams. Sevilla has played slightly better recently, so I am expecting them to advance past this stage.
Basaksehir vs Copenhagen
Here we have a battle of two teams I did not expect to make it to this round, and they also caused me to lose two of my bets last round. I had taken Sporting to advance past Basaksehir and thought I was in great position after the first leg when they won 3-1 over the Turkish side. In the second leg, Basaksehir scored a 92nd minute goal to send it to extra time and then won it with a penalty in the 119th minute. In the other matchup, Copenhagen took it to Celtic in the second leg, winning 3-1 and knocked them out of the tournament, causing me to lose my bet on Celtic to advance.
I am shocked to see both these teams in this round, and it is even crazier that one of these teams will be playing in the quarterfinal of the Europa league. I would guess that if these teams played any other teams in this round, they would be heavy underdogs. These teams are playing with house money at this point and will undoubtedly go for it over these two legs. Both teams have a strong chance to advance to the quarterfinal and we should see two exciting legs, with plenty of goals.
Similar to the match above, the bookies have not taken a strong stance on this game, listing Basaksehir as slight favorites priced at -130 and Copenhagen are listed at even money. We saw how explosive the Basaksehir offense can be last round, especially at home. Copenhagen will need to play stout defense to have any chance to advance. I think this matchup will come down to which team can give the best showing in their away match and could ultimately come down to away goals.
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