Europa League Tips: Back goals in Barca v Gala with chaos in Catalunya

We've reached the last 16 of the Europa League and Kevin Hatchard has four selections for Thursday night's action.

Barca can put on a show

Barcelona v Galatasaray
Thursday 10 March, 20:00
Live on BT Sport

Whisper it quietly, but Barcelona might just be on the up. Xavi has settled nicely into his role as head coach, and he is delivering some exciting football and consistently positive results. The Catalan giants are up to third in the La Liga standings after the weekend's dramatic comeback win at Elche, a game won by a Kevin Pressman-style penalty (look it up, kids) from Memphis.

However, while Xavi now has an embarrassment of riches in attack (a sign that football still doesn't take financial problems seriously), he hasn't yet been able to tighten things up at the back. Both teams have scored in 13 of Barcelona's last 16 games. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen still looks well short of his best, and there are often lapses in concentration from his outfield colleagues. The goal conceded against Elche was a good example, as Pedri needlessly coughed up possession.

So, can Galatasaray score a goal here? Well, their new coach Domenec Torrent certainly wants to play in an attractive, attacking style. Gala have scored 10 goals across their last five league matches, but the bad news is that they've leaked 10 in the same period. Gala are 12th in the Turkish Super Lig standings, remarkably just eight points above the dropzone. Torrent knows the scale of the challenge he faces on Thursday, as he was once Pep Guardiola's assistant at Barcelona.

You could back Both Teams To Score here at 2.3, but instead I'll go for Over 3.5 Goals at 2.18. I think Gala can contribute to a highly entertaining game, but Barca's quality and depth in attack (they had Adama Traore, Ferran Torres and Memphis on the bench at the weekend) will probably make the difference in the end.

Clement to take another step

Braga v Monaco
Thursday March 10, 20:00
Live on BT Sport

While it's been a frustrating campaign for Monaco, littered with poor results that ultimately cost coach Niko Kovac his job, there could still be a happy ending. The team has had something of a positive bounce since former Club Brugge coach Philippe Clement was installed, and although a penalty shootout defeat to Nantes in the Coupe de France semi-finals was a hammer blow, a Champions League spot through the league isn't out of reach.

In the Europa League, Monaco topped a tough group that included PSV and Real Sociedad, and the weekend's 1-0 win at Marseille shows what they are capable of. They have only lost two of their last nine Ligue 1 games, so they are in decent shape.

Braga needed penalties to see off Sheriff Tiraspol in the playoff round, and they have only won three of their last six home games in all competitions. They have drawn against Santa Clara and Boavista in their last two matches, and Carlos Carvalhal is struggling to find the kind of spark needed to compete at this level. In six of their last 14 UEL campaigns, Braga have either fallen at the first or second knockout hurdle, and this feels like the inevitable moment where they get outclassed.

Monaco were unbeaten on the road in the group stage, and I'll back them Draw No Bet here at 1.9.

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