Europa League Betting: Wolfsburg aren't so dangerous
The last 16 of the Europa League gets underway on Thursday night, and Kevin Hatchard has four selections.
Wolves too short to take the win
Wolfsburg v Shakhtar Donetsk Thursday 12 March, 20:00 Live on BT Sport Extra
Wolfsburg pulled off a defensive masterclass against Bundesliga title contenders RB Leipzig at the weekend, drawing 0-0 and almost nicking it at the end. It was a ringing endorsement of coach Oliver Glasner's organisational and tactical abilities, but it also showed that Die Wolfe struggle to turn draws into wins. They have talented players like Admir Mehmedi and Josip Brekalo, but all too often the scoring burden falls upon the broad shoulders of star striker Wout Weghorst. The Dutchman hasn't scored at home in 2020.
Wolfsburg have won just two of their last nine Bundesliga matches at the Volkswagen Arena, and I think they'll have their hands full against a Shakhtar Donetsk team that just knocked out Benfica, scoring five goals across two thrilling matches. One of the issues that sometimes affects Russian and Ukrainian sides in European knockout football is that they are either in or coming out of a winter break, but Shakhtar have played three league games since the break, and have scored four goals in each of the last two.
Shakhtar are without key midfielder Taras Stepanenko because of injury, but Wolfsburg are potentially missing skipper Joshua Guilavogui. I see this as a pretty even contest, and Wolfsburg's odds of 2.40 to win allow us to back Shakhtar with a bit of insurance. I'll back the visitors Draw No Bet here at 2.38.
Goals likely as Eagles dare to dream
Eintracht Frankfurt v Basel Thursday 12 March, 17:55 Live on BT Sport Extra
Eintracht Frankfurt's love affair with the Europa League shows no signs of becoming less intense. Having reached the semi-finals last season, the resurgent Eagles demolished RB Salzburg in the last 32 of this season's competition. In 2020, SGE have won five of their six home games.
Basel are currently without domestic action because of the Swiss authorities' swift and decisive response to the Coronavirus crisis, and it's already been confirmed that the second leg will be postponed. With the Swiss giants trailing the league leaders by five points, it's fair to say they have reserved their best football for the Europa League. Marcel Koller's team caught the eye with a 3-0 win at APOEL in the last 32, and in the group stage they won at Getafe and drew at Trabzonspor.
Frankfurt's excellent home form makes it tempting to back them to win with room to spare, but Basel are a real danger on their travels. I'll go for an Over 2.5 Goals/Both Teams To Score double at 2.08. Frankfurt have seen seven of their last eight matches feature at least three goals, but they have kept just two clean sheets in that sequence.
Heavyweights to land some blows
Sevilla v Roma Thursday 12 March, 20:00 Live on BT Sport ESPN
Sevilla scraped through their tie with Romanian side Cluj by the narrowest of margins, but they are still on course for a strong first season under coach Julen Lopetegui. Their 2-2 draw at Atletico Madrid at the weekend left them third in the La Liga table, two points ahead of Atleti and a point clear of Getafe. Success in a competition that Sevilla identify so strongly with (they won it in three straight seasons under Unai Emery) would be the icing on the cake.
Roma are still battling for Champions League qualification, but they are three points behind an excellent Atalanta team in the race for fourth, and Atalanta have a game in hand. Roma overcame a tricky Gent side 2-1 on aggregate in the previous round, and they have only suffered one defeat in the competition so far.
I suspect both teams will score here. Roma have scored in every single UEL game this term, and they haven't drawn a blank in Serie A since the first week of January. Sevilla have scored in 15 of their last 16 home games in all competitions.
In-form Istanbul to win again
Istanbul Basaksehir v Copenhagen Thursday 12 March, 20:00 Live on BT Sport Extra
Both of these clubs upset the odds to reach the last 16. Copenhagen managed to beat Celtic at Parkhead, while Istanbul Basaksehir came back from 3-1 down in the first leg, courtesy of a vital 90th-minute goal from Edin Visca which forced extra time. The same player put away a penalty to send the Turkish team through.
Basaksehir are in superb form, and have surged three points clear at the top of the Turkish Super Lig. They have won their last four games in all competitions, and at home they have won five in a row.
Copenhagen have just been knocked out of the Danish Cup by Aalborg, and they have only won one of their last four games in the Danish Superliga. They were unbeaten in their three away games in the group phase, but given Basaksehir's current form, the Danes are rightly the outsiders here.