At time of writing, it’s 1.20pm on Wednesday. Biden is starting to turn Pennsylvania and I’m on my seventh cup of coffee since this time yesterday. But the one thing that can really sober me up and knock me back to reality is a gorgeous slate of early Europa League ties featuring sides from the UK and Ireland.
Not quite an aphrodisiac, but very much a welcome boost midweek, would you not agree? Dundalk, Rangers and the mighty Tottenham highlight the pre-6pm kickoffs (still weird) on Thursday and they’re each in very different positions when it comes to their standings in their respective groups.
While Dundalk seem entirely capable of at least grabbing a couple of goals in this group, they’ve been hit by both Molde and Arsenal despite appearing resolute. Spurs? Well, they’re about as unpredictable as you’d expect them to be – a fine reflection of their league form. And Rangers should be sixes-on to win the Champions League despite not being in it. That’s just how talented they look at the moment.
Does the third gameweek in the Europa League stay true to form, or does it throw up yet another outlier for us to ponder? Here’s a Treble that should land you in the money.
Look, this Rangers side is arguably their best-drilled outfit since the turn of the century. They’re not conceding goals, they’ve got countless outlets to find them and their game management resembles that of their manager’s in his heyday.
But Benfica gobble up this competition and their calibre is far eclipsing that against which Rangers have faced to this point in the season, obviously domestically but also in Europe. The Portuguese outfit aren’t a big price to win this competition and there’s a reason for that. I’d expect them to win the group and that wheel starts turning here.
Do you want to be the person waiting on Spurs to keep a clean sheet? I don’t. At least this way, you can be actively in the hunt for this leg, even if they start as poorly as they did last week. Son Heung-min and Harry Kane need a rest, and with Gareth Bale finding himself in the starting XI going forward their front three might change. Luckily, they’ve got depth there.
The same can’t be said at the back though, and that break in consistency might lead to further issues.
They’ll score, of that much I’m sure. Shane Keegan is one of the more understated minds in Irish football and his attention to detail is frightening. He knows as well as I do that they’re not likely to keep a clean sheet, so their path to a Europa League point falls on Pat Hoban and David McMillan.
Rapid aren’t defensively sound this year, and as we saw against Dundalk, Molde aren’t great shakes going forward. Yet, the former Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stronghold took all three points in that game. There is hope.
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Europa League treble
All three bets in a Paddy Power treble combine for odds of around 8/1
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