Rapid Vienna v Rangers: Under 2.5 goals – Evens
What an absolute thriller this is going to be. Football fans from across the globe will be glued to their screens as the mighty Rapid take on the even mightier Rangers on Thursday evening in Vienna.
Rapid will be hoping to avoid having their schnitzels deep-fried by Stevie G’s merry band of Glaswegian raiders, and at first glance you’d fancy the home side’s chances.
They’ve done reasonably well in this group so far, beating Spartak twice and drawing with Villarreal at home (a fine comeback after losing 5-0 in Spain). But, they also lost relatively convincingly to their Scottish opponents back in September, when the Gers sealed a comeback win with a brace from Alfredo Morelos and a pen from James Tavernier.
That will surely play on Rapid’s mind as they go into this vital fixture. They’ve failed to score in three of their last six games, with just two wins in the same period, so they’re not exactly on electric form.
For their part, Rangers have been pretty consistent, but have had recent wobbles against Dundee and Aberdeen. We think they might have enough to get a win in Austria, but there may be a safer option: the Over/Under Goals market.
This has the hallmarks of a tight game, and when Rapid’s recent lack of goals is allied to Rangers’ slightly iffy form of late, this one could be a low-scoring affair. It would be no surprise if this was a nil-all or a scrappy 1-0, so we’re taking Under 2.5 goals at Evens.
MOL Vidi v Chelsea: Under 2.5 Goals – 17/20
The Blues will be buzzing still from Saturday night’s Stamford Bridge showdown with the supposedly inevitable champions. Sarri and Co really have a cheek upsetting Pep’s plans, don’t they?
A Europa League away trip to Hungary when you’re already through is just what you need to come back down to earth.
Chelsea have won all three of their games so far, meaning they’ve secured a second-round spot already and can even chill out on this trip as everyone is so far behind them in the group a loss won’t affect their seeding either.
Their opponents wouldn’t mind if they take their foot off as they’ve still got a shot at slipping through in second if they can better BATE Borisov’s result. They’re in that position thanks to two wins over PAOK, but all their games in Group L have been tight, with none going over 2.5 goals.
When they met London earlier in the campaign, the unfancied away side held the Premier League side to just one goal, while they also kept clean sheets in both their wins.
As such, the under on 2.5 goals stands out in a game at 17/20 where there’s little for the away team to play for and the home side will be hoping to grind out a result.
Arsenal v Qarabag FK: Arsenal to keep a Clean Sheet – 4/5
A dead rubber to end all dead rubbers as the Gunners have already topped the group.
That’s not to say that there will be any let-up in Unai Emery’s approach as the Spaniard faces into his 23rd game unbeaten in all competitions. He won’t want to let that impressive record slip against bottom feeders Qarabag FK.
The visitors have only scored two goals in the group, so expect a lot of buses to be parked in trying to keep the scoreline respectable. Meanwhile, Arsenal have only conceded twice and have kept clean sheets in their last four games in the Europa League.
Celtic v Salzburg: Draw – 9/4
You might believe with Celtic only needing a point to qualify and Salzburg being uncatchable Group B leaders that we are pointing to a mutually beneficial draw here. Well, not so fast.
While the Austrians technically have nothing to play for, you can expect them to have plenty of energy for the fight at Celtic Park on Thursday night. That’s because they share the same energy drink sponsor as RB Leipzig and you can bet they’ll be whispering in Salzburg ears to encourage them to get both their clubs into the knockout phase.
Speaking of knockouts, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will have been proud of the way Celtic have scrapped their way into a position to qualify, coming into this with back-to-back Europa League victories over Leipzig and Rosenberg.
The Bhoys also rediscovered their right hook of late too, winning eight of their last ten games.
That’s has us believing they can hold out for the draw they need at 9/4 and we should be seeing them join their opponents in the hat for the next round. After all Brendan Rodgers gives them wings…
* All odds correct at time of posting.