The best thing about the Europa League is it really pulls out those gorgeous European cities that nobody immediately thinks of, and gives us a reason to look them up for a few minutes before each tie. For example, Braga – nice weather, suffers a bit from transport links, but really benefits from the lack of hustle and bustle you get in Lisbon. Prague – a mish-mash of various cultures and gorgeous architecture, combined with a sinister historical background and incredible landscapes.
Then you see they’re playing Celtic and Leicester and you realise that perhaps you writing for Lonely Planet isn’t actually your ideal career path. However, there is football to be played, no matter where you live and that truly is the universal language. Poor Celtic are having a tough time of it of late. Not even Neil Lennon’s love affair with European football can help them, let alone Rangers looking as good as any of their sides did over the last 40 years.
As for Leicester? Well, they’re in a permanent state of flux between title-challenging and financially-implicated expectation. But in pure footballing terms, they’re a blast. That spices up midweek, doesn’t it? Here’s a few quid courtesy of a Europa League Double.
I have to say, I don’t really understand the price. If this were Spurs at home to Braga, they’d probably be half the price, despite being twice as inconsistent. The one thing about Leicester is you know from very early on if they’re on it or not. In this situation, I very much expect them to be, as they could easily challenge in the latter end of this competition.
Braga have won four on the bounce in the league, but goals are hard to come by for them – with that being said, they’re considerably more conservative than their other rivals and that should land them third spot in the league over the course of the season. It won’t be doing them any favours on this occasion, though as Leicester don’t waste time, and if Braga are forced to come out after spending all their sessions practicing shape, it could be nasty.
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are correct at time of publication but subject to change
You want me to back Celtic in this tie, when Sparta are top of their domestic league, having scored 20 times in just a handful of games, with the Bhoys looking a mere shadow of themselves and dropping points at every available opportunity? Not for me.
While the calibre of play is reflected in the price, what you can’t account for is pressure and – despite me denying it for the bones of a decade – Parkhead may actually possess mystical powers to get otherwise average footballers over the line on nights when they really have no right to.
With that advantage quashed, all there is to drown out the sense of their impending failure is their own resentment – and in this situation, an echo chamber in Glasgow resembles a sealing of fate.
Our Europa League double
Both these bets in a double will give odds of around 6/1
- Our 8/1 treble for Dundalk, Rangers and Spurs in Thursday’s early kick-offs
- Zlatan the key in this 9/1 treble for the rest of Thursday’s footy
- Mesut Ozil delivers hologram of himself to Old Trafford for Arsenal game
- Subbuteo adds VAR and replica Stockley Park ahead of Christmas rush
- Get the latest football tips on all the big matches on Paddy Power News