Although seen as the continent’s second club competition, the Europa League always provides plenty of drama and Thursday’s matches promise more excitement as those involved battle for a place in the group stages.
No Sarajevo Strife for Celtic
Another year, and another season without Champions League football for Celtic after again falling short in qualifying.
They did though perform relatively well in this competition last term, beating both Rennes and Lazio in the groups, only to fall to Copenhagen.
After perhaps being caught out by complacency in going out to Ferenvaros in the Champions League, they will be aware of their task on Thursday when they head to Zenica’s Bilino Polje Stadium to face Bosnian champions Sarajevo.
The Maroon-Whites have never made the group stages of a European competition and perhaps a bit like the Bhoys, have become victims of their domestic success when it comes to continental football.
Mohamed Elyounoussi was Celtic’s match-winner in last week’s 1-0 win over Riga and another scruffy victory might be the order of the day, with an away triumph by a single goal
Rangers Ready for Inconsistent Galatasaray
Rangers’ 4-0 win away at Dutch side Willem II was arguably the performance of the third qualifying round and they will hope home comforts can serve them well at Ibrox against Galatasaray.
The Gers backed up that showing with a 5-1 win at Motherwell to continue to maintain their advantage over Celtic in the Scottish Premiership. James Tavernier netted from the spot in both of those games and is
7/2 as an anytime scorer.
Thursday’s visitors Gala are a team in transition and after years of spending big on international talents, have a more domestic feel about their squad this season.
Seven points from the first nine available in the Super Lig is a good return but their 3-1 win at Neftci in the previous round was the Turkish outfit’s first in five Europa League trips.
Their fallibility on the road has to be acknowledged and could help see Steven Gerrard’s men through, with the home side
1/1 to win on the night.
Tottenham Should Have Too Much
Finally and a much-changed Tottenham should have more than enough to beat Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa.
While Jose Mourinho continues to see his side flounder in the Premier League, the ‘Special One’ retains his magic in the cup competitions and produced another tactical masterclass as his side defeated Chelsea on penalties in the EFL Cup.
A trip to another of his former clubs, Manchester United, on Sunday may make Mourinho coy on his selection but potentially recalling Harry Kane for a start can hardly be a bad thing.
Opponents Haifa impressed in defeating Russian outfit Rostov on the road last week but Spurs look a cut above.
*All odds correct at time of writing