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UEFA Europa League: Quarter-Finals Preview


We’re down to the last-eight of the UEFA Europa League with a handful of heavyweight contenders left in the competition expected to flex their muscles. The past eight editions of the tournament have been won by either English (3) or Spanish (5) clubs.

Manchester United remain the favourites with many fans predicting a showdown in the final with former-striker Romelu Lukaku’s Inter Milan. Sevilla impressed with a dominant performance in Duisburg that sent Roma packing back to Italy in the round of 16 and Los Palanganas have the pedigree for being the most successful team in this competition’s recent history.

Wolves and Bayer Leverkusen will firmly believe that they could go all the way if they manage to overcome Sevilla and Inter Milan in the two eye-catching fixtures of the quarter-finals.

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Monday 10 August

Manchester United 1/4
Draw 47/10
Copenhagen 19/2
(21:00)

Manchester United will be hoping to clinch their first major piece of silverware since lifting the UEFA Europa League back in 2016/17 under Jose Mourinho. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is at the wheel and will be aiming to steer United to cup glory before taking his troops to play against the “big boys” of the Champions League next season. RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne will be the venue of United’s three matches, only if the Red Devils make it through at the expense of their opposition. The winner of this game will await the winners of Wolves and Sevilla in the semi-finals on Sunday 16 August. Copenhagen produced one of the upsets of the previous round, turning a 1-0 first-leg deficit around by convincingly beating much-fancied Istanbul Basaksehir 3-0 in Denmark, thanks to Jonas Wind’s inspired performance. Captain Zeca will surely be telling his teammates to leave everything out there on the pitch but United are expected to play their strongest team and will likely end the Danish club’s cup run with their immense quality in midfield and upfront. There’s little value on offer for the United win, I suggest backing Home Win to Nil (Yes) at 9/10.

Inter Milan 21/20
Draw 5/2
Bayer Leverkusen 24/10
(21:00)

Antonio Conte will be looking to earn his first piece of silverware for the Nerazzurri with Belgium’s all-time leading goal-scorer Lukaku in fine form, scoring 30 goals across all competitions in 43 starts. Argentine hitman Lautaro Martinez has netted 19 times in 33 starts and together with Lukaku, Conte has a formidable strike-partnership that is backed up by a well-drilled and hardworking group of players that would run through walls for their Italian mentor. Bayer Leverkusen face their toughest test yet in the competition but will feel at home in the Dusseldorf Arena, a stadium the Werkself used during the 2008/09 campaign when the BayArena was being upgraded. Peter Bosz’s men started the season off in the Champions League, grouped with Juventus and Atletico Madrid, losing to Italian champions Juve twice (2-0 and 3-0). Kai Havertz is an incredible talent and all eyes will be on the German starlet once again, the stage is set for him to increase his value in the transfer market with a brilliant performance. I expect Inter to qualify to the next round but my money will be on Home to Score in Both Halves at 39/20 odds.

Tuesday 11 August

Wolves 51/20
Draw 21/10
Sevilla 23/20
(21:00)

Tuesday evening’s action will begin with a fascinating contest between two sides that are solid defensively, keeping clean sheets and hitting opponents on the break with quality counter-attacks. In the Europa League, no one has managed to score against Wolves at the Molineux Stadium in four games with Nuno Espirito Santo’s wolf pack winning all four games by an aggregate score of 10-0. Diogo Jota, who netted two hat-tricks against Besiktas and Espanyol, is likely to support Adama Traore and Daniel Podence to provide the service to the focal point of the attack, Raul Jimenez. The Mexican striker has scored 23 goals and contributed nine assists this season and shows no signs of slowing down with his name definitely on the transfer target lists of Europe’s best clubs. Sevilla were equally impressive at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, keeping four clean sheets on the bounce. Lucas Ocampos looks like a real live wire for Julen Lopetegui’s team and they’re solid at the back with pacey full-backs and strong centre-halves. Sevilla have the upper hand when it comes to experience but a cagey and hard-fought match is expected, put your money on the Draw in the Half-Time market at even money.

Shakhtar Donetsk 17/20
Draw 51/20
Basel 29/10
(21:00)

Shakhtar Donetsk finished with a late flurry of goals in their 3-0 win over Wolfsburg. The Ukrainian club has prided themselves on unearthing quality Brazilian talents such as Fernandinho, Willian and Douglas Costa. Next in line is Junior Moraes, a Santos academy graduate that has received Ukrainian citizenship last year. Shakhtar were relegated to Europa League after finishing third behind Manchester City and Atalanta in the Champions League group stage, and former Arsenal and Man United striker Robin Van Persie stated that whenever you play Shakhtar, they make it difficult for opponents with their high pressing and physical players always ready to get stuck in. Basel will come into the clash full of confidence after avoiding getting drawn against the bigger teams, but the Swiss side have won seven of their last eight Europa League games, conceding just twice, while scoring 13 times. Take Shakhtar Donestsk to Win and Both Teams to Score (Yes) at 26/10.

Monday DOUBLE @ 9/2
Manchester United – Home Win to Nil 9/10
Inter Milan – Home to Score in Both Halves 39/20

Tuesday DOUBLE @ 6/1
Wolves vs Sevilla – Half Time: Draw 1/1
Shakhtar Donestsk Win and Both Teams to Score (Yes) 26/10

Written by Bryan Naicker