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.
Inter Milan vs Getafe
This is one of the strongest matchups in the Round of 16, but unfortunately it has been postponed to a later date due to Coronavirus. Inter Milan comfortably moved past Ludogorets while Getafe pulled off a small upset to make it past Ajax in the last round. This is a hard set of fixtures to predict since we don’t know when or where these games will be played.
I would expect that whenever these games are played, we will see a great set of fixtures. Inter will look to wear down Getafe tactically, and take their chances efficiently. Getafe will most likely be on the front foot for a majority of these matches and have to make sure they don’t get beat on the counterattack. The first match will likely be a low scoring, defensive affair with the offensive fireworks showing up in the second leg. This is another matchup where I see the away goals playing an important role.
The bookies have made Inter slight favorites in this matchup, listing them at a price of -135. If you want to back the underdog, you can take Getafe at +105. If Serie A had not postponed all their games for a month, I would have said there is slight value on Getafe here to advance. Inter will now have an advantage with some extra rest, unless La Liga follows suit and postpones all their games. This is also dependent on when these games end up being played. Inter should be motivated here and have the better side, so I expect them to advance but we are in for two great games between these sides.
Wolfsburg vs Shakhtar Donetsk
This may be one of the more underrated matchups in this round of fixtures. Both of these teams have a good shot here to advance and we should see some good attacking football in both legs. Shakhtar beat Benfica in the last round with a strong offensive display, netting five goals over their two games. Wolfsburg had an easier time with Malmo in the last round, advancing 5-1 on aggregate.
Shakhtar’s defense is really going to have to step it up if they want to see themselves advance to the next round. They might be playing a bit risky if they want to keep outgunning teams and beating them in higher scoring games. Wolfsburg is a step up in competition compared to Benfica but they have been struggling in the Bundesliga this year. Shahktar’s offense may prove to be too much for Wolfsburg to match. Either way it’s going to be an exciting two legs to see if Shaktar’s offense can do enough to take them to victory.
The bookies are siding slightly with Shakhtar in this matchup, pricing them as the favorites at -135 while the German side are short dogs, priced at +105. Both these teams have been playing well recently and their form should continue. Shakhtar’s offense should be enough to get them through to the next round but don’t expect Wolfsburg to go down easy.
Rangers vs Leverkusen
This is one of the few matchups where I am expecting a lot of goals in both their games. Leverkusen will look to put their offensive prowess on full display here against the Scottish side. Rangers will need to get on the scoresheet multiple times here to have any chance at advancing to the Round of 16. Leverkusen is coming off a dominating two legs over a strong Porto side while Rangers impressively moved past Braga.
Rangers’ Europa campaign may end here as Leverkusen is a big step up in competition from their past opponents. Leverkusen just easily dispatched of a Portuguese side that is stronger than the Portuguese side that Rangers struggled to move past. Leverkusen has more talent top to bottom and will look to overpower Rangers in the first leg. While these games might be fun to watch, I am not expecting a ton of drama from this matchup.
Leverkusen are just behind Manchester United as the biggest favorites to advance from this round, listed at a juicy price of -375. That makes Rangers +275 to advance. This line seems about right, I don’t think Rangers have much of a chance to advance here. Leverkusen should overwhelm them with their attacking talent.
Olympiacos vs Wolves
We’ve got two teams in this matchup who could not have entered this round in more opposite ways. Wolves destroyed Espanyol 4-0 in the first leg, which was more than enough to secure their spot in the last round. Olympiacos pulled off the biggest upset of the Round of 32, knocking off the English giants, Arsenal. They needed extra time to advance and scored a goal in the 119th minute just six minutes after Arsenal took the lead on aggregate. Olympiacos advanced on their away goals.
The first leg will be played in Greece in front of an empty stadium. This should give Wolves an even bigger advantage in this matchup by not having to play in front of a hostile Greek crowd. We may see a similar approach from Wolves in these matches, as they will look to end this fixture in the first game. I am not sure Wolves will have as much success in that strategy as they did against Espanyol, but they should see themselves advance out of this round.
Wolves are strong favorites to advance, priced at -240 while Olympiacos are +190. We saw in the last round that Olympiacos are a scrappy team, and they even gave Tottenham and Bayern a fight in the Champions League group stage. Wolves must take this team seriously and if they do, they shouldn’t have much of an issue getting past this Greek side. As long as they don’t pull the same choke job as Arsenal, we should see Wolves in the next round.
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