It might seem somewhat unimportant on Cheltenham week, but I promise you, there are billions of people alive today that don’t know the Gold Cup is being run tomorrow, so I suppose we’ll have to cater for everyone.
As Spurs appear disgraced and Atalanta look the form team in the Champions League, it kind of makes you wonder – is the Europa League the new Champions League?
Happy to hear from production companies about directing the above as a direct-to-video sequel of Orange is the New Black.
In all seriousness, there’s huge British interest in this Europa League Thursday, and all the jibes about the competitions level of importance can take a back seat.
You can punt on horses all you like, but here’s a nice little treble you can back without having to walk around in tweed.
LASK Linz v Man United – Man United to win (10/11)
Whether you believe in the resurgence or not, Manchester United are a force to be reckoned with in the short-term at least and that means momentum should carry them over the line here.
LASK might well be top of the Austrian Bundesliga – a handful of points more than Red Bull Salzburg, who you’ll all know, but, to steal a phrase from our horse-racing comrades, is the form worth much?
Thankfully you can bypass these questions by just going with your gut – that a 2-0 win over Manchester City is slightly above whatever Linz have achieved thus far, and that the Linzer Stadium won’t hold too many problems for the should-be tournament favourites.
It’s not even their home ground, which alleviates any sort of advantage they might have otherwise.
This is open and shut.
Olympiakos v Wolves – Olympiakos to win (23/10)
This is a crazy price.
The initial selection was actually Inter to beat Getafe but seeing as the visitors are refusing to, well, visit Milan – for bloody good reason I might add – we’ll side some bizarre prices instead.
Olympiakos are widely considered one of the top ten clubs in terms of atmosphere generated at home in Europe, and while that’s all well and good in Buzzfeed lists, those things don’t always translate to here.
Except that Arsenal felt the wrath of the Greek superpower, albeit in London – but they’re much better unit than they’re given credit for.
There’s also a huge unspoken fear factor about travelling anywhere in Europe now for teams. This ties into the home advantage narrative.
Rangers v Leverkusen – Both Teams to Score: Yes (6/10)
The price is what it is for a reason – Rangers truly can’t defend, but they’ve so much quality in their side that they’re bound to score regardless.
Steven Gerrard, and I bloody hate this narrative, knows European nights and his charges have clearly been briefed on how to cope with the occasion.
Do I think it will be enough to land another famous win in European competition at Ibrox? I’m not sure, but I do know there’ll be fireworks.
Back the goals to play it safe.
A Treble on these three bets pays out at over 9/1
Rangers v Leverkusen: BTTS – 6/10
*All odds correct at time of publication