St- Etienne v Gent
Group I is one that is far from sewn up. Gent currently lead the way on 8 points with Wolfsburg in second on 5 points whilst Saint Etienne and Oleksandria are both on 3 points, all from draws. A win at the Stade Geoffrey Guichard would put Saint right in the mix for qualification and they’ll take heart from their recent form under new gaffer Claude Puel.
Les Verts are unbeaten under the former Leicester and Southampton manager and they appeal with a +0 start on the asian handicap at a respectable 1.810. Puel has made the Loire-based side very hard to beat and he’s got them typically well drilled defensively, keeping clean sheets in 5/10 games in all competitions. Even when they concede they have the character to avoid defeat but the pressure is on them to win here really if they want to still be in the running on the final matchday.
KAA Gent are doing well in their domestic league, currently residing in 3rd place. That being said, De Buffalos have done most of their good work at their Ghelamco Arena base. Away from home the Belgian outfit have struggled comparatively, winning just 3 of their 14 trips in all competitions this season. Jess Thorup has seen his side concede three or more at Anderlecht, Antwerp and Club Brugge in recent weeks and if the hosts can keep them relatively quiet, they should have enough to get the result.
This bet would’ve only lost once in the hosts’ nine competitive home games this season and Gent would be happy with a point here whereas the group dynamics dictate it’s pretty much a must win for Saint, I would be shocked if we didn’t at least get our money back here.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Saint Etienne +0.00 at 1.810
AZ Alkmaar v Partizan
Possibly my favourite team in Europe at the minute are Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. After hearing good things about their inexperienced roster early last season I have kept a keen eye on the humorously nicknamed ‘Cheeseheads’. Manager Arne Slot has brought through a host of young talents all together at the same time and it’s proved extremely fruitful and created some genuine assets for Chairman Rene Neelissen.
The most talked about trio are the front three of Oussama Idrissi, Calvin Stengs and Myron Boadu. The latter pair both got deserved call ups to the Dutch national team at the last international break with 18 year old Boadu bagging on debut against Estonia. Idrissi too has been a mainstay of his national team after declaring his allegiance to Morocco. The trio have contributed a mammoth 32 goals in the Eredivisie (goals and assists) as well as 13 in their Europa League campaign. They aren’t the only ones impressing though, fellow youngsters Teun Koopmeiners and Owen Wijndal have both excelled and they’ll all no doubt have benefited from the experience of Ron Vlaar.
AZ are in frightening form at both ends of the pitch. Amazingly they’ve kept clean sheets in 10 of their last 12 games which is an excellent base to build from, that includes each of their last 6. If you just take those last 6 games they’ve won by an aggregate of 24-0! They’ve covered the -2 handicap in all of those and the -3 in half of them.
They host a Partizan Belgrade side that have lost their last 3 away games against Manchester United, Cukaricki and Mladost Lucani. Far from inspiring. The Crno-Beli have to win this if they want to have a chance of progression but I think if they come out and attack they will be picked of on the break by the swift hosts. I have to be with the red hot AZ here and will back them on the -1 asian handicap at 1.930. This would see a full win should Alkmaar win by 2 or more but if they win by the single goal then we get our stakes back, the only way we lose is if Partizan come away with something.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: AZ Alkmaar -1.00 at 1.930
Young Boys v Porto
Group G is another quartet separated by just 3 points. Young Boys could seal their place in the knockout phase if they win in Bern on Thursday evening against Porto but when the Swiss side are involved there’s one market I instinctively go to and that is goals.
They’ve been a team synonymous with goal heavy games for a few seasons now and just a glance at their results will show you how good they are going forward but also how susceptible they can be at the other end. They come into this clash off the back of consecutive 4-3 results which is bizarre, 9 of their last 11 games have broke the over 2.5 barrier and whenever you get a decent price on this line I’m more than inclined to back it. Over 2.5 goals has been priced up at a generous 1.810 on the asian lines and even though they’re coming up against a relatively low scoring Porto side I’m still happy to back the goals.
FCP are on 4 points and could do with a win here really, I expect them to get drawn into an end-to-end game and should they concede first they simply have to come out as they’re eliminated if they lose here. This reverse fixture ended 2-1 to the Dragons and therefore saw the overs land. There’s certainly potential for the visitors to get a couple of goals here as Young Boys have shipped 3 goals in 3 of their last 4 against St Gallen, Servette and Sion, all worse teams than Porto. It’s getting to the stage of the competition where needs must and we could start to see some more open games.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 1.810
Preview By: TomLove_18