Wolves and Slovan played out an entertaining game on Matchday Three in Slovakia, and Kevin Hatchard expects more entertainment at Molineux on Thursday...
Wolves aiming to prolong European adventure
It can sometimes be demoralising to see clubs work hard to qualify for European competition, to then effectively forfeit that competition by fielding weakened sides. The top teams can get away with that kind of approach, but the surprise European qualifiers cannot. Recent English football history is littered with examples of this, but Wolves are happily bucking the trend.
Coach Nuno Santo has taken the UEL seriously from the get-go, and after a tricky start (a 1-0 home defeat to Braga) he is being rewarded for his willingness to play his key performers. Besiktas were beaten 1-0 in Turkey, and then the Black Country team came from behind to win 2-1 at Slovan Bratislava, holding onto their advantage despite the late sending-off of Diogo Jota.
Wolves have won three of their four home games in this competition, and know another win would take them to within touching distance of qualification for the last 32. For all the talk of investment and the influence and heavy contacts book of super-agent Jorge Mendes, securing post-Christmas continental football would be a huge achievement for a club like Wolves.
With key defender Willy Boly out injured, the likes of Roman Saiss and Leander Dendoncker have recently stepped up to effectively fill that gap. Nuno will make changes with a derby against Aston Villa on the horizon, but Raul Jimenez is expected to start in attack, especially with Jota suspended.
Slovan have shown they can be dangerous opponents
Slovan Bratislava knocked Greek champions PAOK out of this competition in the qualifiers, and despite their defeat to Wolves on Matchday Three, they are still very much in the mix for qualification in a very competitive group. They drew 2-2 at Braga on Matchday Two, and kicked off the group stage by beating Besiktas 4-2.
That attacking approach is likely to continue, and it's worth noting that the Slovakian league leaders have rattled in 37 goals in just 14 league games, and they have scored in each of their last 31 competitive matches. Their last failure in front of goal was all the way back in April.
Wolves to win, but price is unattractive
I suspect Wolves will grab the victory they need here, but I can't get excited about their price of 1.39 here. Wolves have only won two of their last 15 games by more than one goal. There's certainly merit in giving Slovan a goal-and-a-half start here on the Asian Handicap at 1.75.
Goals the key to profit
Slovan almost always score, and I'm hugely surprised that Both Teams To Score is trading at a hefty 2.20 here. That bet has paid out in Wolves' last five games in all competitions. Alternatively you can back Over 2.5 Goals at 1.89.