Week two of Europa kicks off tomorrow with some fascinating ties for in store.
Irish champions Dundalk host their first ever tie in Ireland against Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv, while Southampton travel in the opposite direction to meet Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United host Zorya Luhansk at Old Trafford.
Great teams if you’re in an intense game of scrabble.
To make Thursday night’s action a little more interesting for you, we’ve picked out a five team acca – which includes a little handicap – that pays out at over 26/1.
Dundalk take their talents to Dublin’s Tallaght Stadium looking to add the late point they stole from AZ Alkmaar. That stalemate actually has them above their opponents in Group K.
Israeli league leaders Maccabi Tel Aviv will be all out to prove a point after somehow falling to a 4-3 defeat after leading 3-0 at home to Zenit St Petersburg with 20 minutes to go.
Stephen Kenny’s side showed incredible grit to grab that draw with Alkmaar, especially when you consider they scored the leveller despite being down to ten men since the 71st minute. They’ve sent out a clear message that Dundalk are no European pushovers, but they are still outsiders for this one at .
Tel Aviv have won their last three and will arrive in Tallaght full of confidence, but we have learned our lesson from backing against Dundalk in the past. We’ll take an draw in this one to open our acca.
Defeat to Feyenoord in this competition two weeks ago had little murmurs about Man United’s form rise to the surface, those whispers turned to shouts of anger three days later as Mourinho’s men slipped to a third loss on the spin away to Watford.
It’s fair to say they’ve turned a corner since then, a win over Northampton in the EFL Cup and a first-half dismantling of champions Leicester has seen the dark clouds dissipate over Old Trafford.
United are massive favourites to end September with three victories in three and you couldn’t see Ukrainian unknowns Zorya Luhansk holding them out.
Zorya did get a creditable point at home to Fenerbahce in the opening round of fixtures, but Mourinho will be desperate to get points under his belt in Europe.
Our bet for this one is Man United to win (-1.0) at .
Hapoel Be’er Sheva are still riding on the crest of a wave after winning only their third Israeli title in 67 years history last season.
Celtic proved a bridge too far for them in the Champions League qualifiers, but their 2-0 away win over Inter Milan in the first group game will probably go down as Be’er Sheva’s greatest ever European night.
Standing in their way of a second win in-a-row is one of the Premier League’s most in-form teams, Southampton.
Claude Puel’s Saints have scored four wins on the trot and when you couple that with four clean sheets as well, you’ve got a scary prospect on your hands if you’re Be’er Sheva.
We’re going with Southampton at for an away win and keep an eye Saints hotshot Charlie Austin at for the first goal – he netted five goals in the last four.
In celebration of an Irish team’s participation in the Europa League, we’ve decided to stay in Dundalk’s group for the fourth leg of our acca.
Zenit St Petersburg showed their resilience in that miracle comeback in Tel Aviv, and it’s no surprise they come into the contest as huge favourites.
While AZ have won five away games on the spin, their opposition have been nowhere near the quality of Zenit and Dundalk have exposed just how soft their defence is at set plays. The Russians are our tip in this one.
The final port of call for our acca features a cheeky little Netherlands v Belgium battle.
With six wins in-a-row under their belt, you’d expect Ajax to take this one at with the added benefit of home comforts at the Amsterdam Arena.
Standard Liège’s last six away games have only yielded a single victory and they are likely to struggle in what should be an intimidating away day.
Ajax it is for us then!
- Acca summary: Dundalk v Maccabi Tel Aviv – draw, Manchester United (-1.0) – win, Southampton – win, Zenit St Petersburg – win and Ajax – win.