Europa League Betting: Hurting Bears target win over Young Boys to top Group G
Rangers look to bounce back from Sunday's League Cup final defeat. To do that they must beat Young Boys at Ibrox to top the group. Frankie Monkhouse previews...
Last throw of the dice
Thursday brings the final round of matches from the Europa League group stages as teams battle for a place in the knockout phase of UEFA's second-string competition. Celtic have already booked their place in the next round as Group E winners and Rangers hope to join them in the hat as champions of Group G.
To have any chance of achieving that, Gers must beat Young Boys at home in what should be an engrossing match. Young Boys are the only team involved in the pool with a win over Steven Gerrard's men. Will the light blues enjoy the sweet taste of revenge in Govan?
CFR Cluj v Celtic Thursday, 17:55 Live on BT Sport
Hosts have lost two of their last four
Cluj knocked Celtic out of the Champions League qualifiers back in the summer, but they have played second fiddle to the Scottish treble winners for much of this Europa League campaign. The host enter this match with form reading three wins against two defeats, nine points on the board leaving them four behind their in form opponents.
Dan Petrescu's men lost 2-0 at Parkhead in October, beaten by goals from Odsonne Edouard and Mohamed Elyounoussi. The stats show they have also suffered defeat in half of their last four Europa League outings and that doesn't do much to inspire confidence amongst football bettors. The Betfair Sportsbook prices Cluj as 11/10 favourites but that has as much to do with Celtic not needing to win as the home team being good enough to claim the points.
Visitors have won four on the bounce
Neil Lennon's Celtic side have impressed since their opening game in France. The Bhoys make this trip having already secured top spot in a pool made up of Cluj, Lazio and Rennes. They enjoy a four-point advantage over their hosts in second with Lazio back in third, seven off the pace. Celtic made light work of Rennes in Glasgow last time out and, as a result, have a dozen more points than the Ligue 1 outfit who will be happy to see the back of this tournament.
Lewis Morgan scored only his second Celtic goal to break the deadlock in Glasgow a fortnight ago and that was followed by strikes from Ryan Christie and Mikey Johnston, the latter staying cool to hit the net in his first appearance since September. Rennes only response on a painful night for them was a late goal from Adrien Hunou. A fifth win on the bounce for Celtic is 29/10, the draw marked up at 11/5 - both quotes taken from the Sportsbook.
Rangers v Young Boys Thursday, 20:00 Live on BT Sport
All to play for at Ibrox
In Glasgow, Rangers face a make or break tie when hosting Young Boys in a Group G decider. Gers sit top of the pool after five games, their stats reading two wins, two draws and one defeat. Eight points on the board has them one better than Porto and Young Boys, three above Feyenoord. The stats show Steven Gerrard's men have won only one of their last four Europa League starts - drawing two and losing the spare. To add a little more excitement to this tie, that sole defeat was suffered in Bern on matchday two.
Rangers followed that narrow loss with a confidence boosting draw away to Porto before beating the same team in their last outing at Ibrox. A 2-2 draw away to Feyenoord followed and The Bears are now within touching distance of playing European knockout football in only Gerrard's second season in charge. Traders have the home win priced at 17/20 and that looks accurate. A draw would also be enough to see the locals sneak through and you can back the level finish at 29/10.
Young Boys arrive needing the points
Young Boys scored each of their two wins so far back-to-back, beating Rangers 2-1 at home before upsetting the odds to better Feyenoord at the Wankdorf Stadium in October courtesy of a 2-0 score. Rangers took the lead in Switzerland thanks to a sublime strike from Columbian hitman Alfredo Morelos but were unable to hold onto that lead. Roger Assale's goal early in the second half drew the teams level before Christian Fassnacht netted a dramatic injury-time winner.
Rangers would've felt they deserved at least a point from that match, but they paid the price for trying to win it at the death when holding onto the ball and running down the clock away from home in Europe would've been a better tactic. It was a close game, but Young Boys earned the points and will fancy their chances of repeating the feat in Glasgow. The visitors need to win but the 3/1 on the Betfair Sportsbook suggest they'll return home empty-handed.