- Matchday 2 of the UEFA Europa League group stages takes place on Thursday
- Man Utd with tricky away task in Holland
- Wolves desperate to kickstart their season after a disappointing start
It’s Matchday 2 in the new Europa League group stage season on Thursday, October 3, and we’ve picked out three of the top fixtures to see if we can identify some value for the punters.
AZ Alkmaar vs. Manchester United Odds
|AZ Alkmaar||0.0 (+120)||+195||O 2.5 (-110)|
|Manchester United||0.0 (-145)||+140||U 2.5 (-115)|
*All odds taken 10/02/2019
United’s season has yet to take off and there is growing pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solkjaer as his team struggles to ignite. Solskjaer’s attempt to mould a young, vibrant United team has yet to pay dividends, and the patience needed when a new, young team is put together appears in short supply around Old Trafford.
Two wins, three draws and two defeats is not the type of start to the season United fans have been accustomed to – even in the lean years since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson – and while the desire to blood youngsters is laudable, there is a growing unease at the increasing gap between United and the top two, Liverpool and Manchester City.
Top four and a place in next season’s Champions League is the best United can hope for domestically, so a Europa League run to the competition’s latter stages will be high on the agenda of the United owners.
Whether they are good enough to do this remains to be seen and the +800 on offer for them to win the tournament doesn’t look great value, and even a win in Alkmaar looks a big ask.
AZ qualified for the Europa League thanks to a fourth-place finish in the 2018/19 Eredivisie and have made a good start to this season’s campaign, currently sitting third behind Ajax and PSV. They have been consistently in or around the group of top teams in Dutch football and have finished in the top six of the Eredivisie in each of the last four seasons.
Feyenoord Rotterdam 0-3 AZ Alkmaar:
⚽ 39th min: Myron Boadu (18) scores
⚽ 50th min: Calvin Stengs (20) scores
⚽ 83rd min: Oussama Idrissi (23) scores
That dynamic front three destroys again. pic.twitter.com/zbqpH87BZc
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) September 26, 2019
While AZ are not regarded as ‘giants’ of Dutch football, they are well-established in the Eredivisie and have won the title twice – most recently in 2008/09 – and have competed in European competition in 12 of the last 15 seasons.
They were able to continue their good domestic form into their Europa League campaign and the point in Belgrade, playing with ten men for over an hour, was borne of a succession of excellent recent performances.
AZ Playing ‘Away’
Thursday’s game is to be played at Den Haag’s Kyocera Stadium as Almaar’s roof at their AFAS Stadium collapsed last month, meaning they have been forced to play their home fixtures elsewhere. It will be played on an artificial surface.
I believe AZ have more than enough to make life difficult for United and while it’s not inconceivable they could sneak a win, the value here is with the draw.
Pick: Draw (+230)
Besiktas vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers Odds
|Besiktas||+0.5 (-160)||+205||O 2.5 (-110)|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||-0.5 (+125)||+130||U 2.5 (-115)|
Wolves head to Turkey to face Besiktas, looking for their first points of the competition after having started their campaign with a 1-0 defeat at home to Braga. Besiktas, in their opener, looked on course to earn a point against Slovan Bratislava, only to concede two late goals to lose 4-2.
The English Premier League team have struggled since overcoming Torino to earn their place in the group stages of the competition – one win in their last six games – but last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Watford, following on from their 95th-minute equalizer at Crystal Palace a week earlier, has given them a timely boost.
This is a competition that Wolves are hoping to go a long way in, and so after losing their opener this one is most definitely a must-not-lose. They will, however, have to overcome a hostile home crowd who notoriously make life difficult for visiting teams.
Besiktas may have lost their first group game and are currently in the relegation zone of Turkey’s Süper Lig, but significantly are unbeaten in their three home games in all competitions this season. Defensively they have issues though, and just one clean sheet in their last seven games is problematic.
Slovan Bratislava 4-2 Beşiktaş (Maç Sonucu)
⚽ 14' Sporar
⚽ 29' Adem Ljajic (P)
⚽ 45' Bozhikov (K.K)
⚽ 58' Sporar
⚽ 90' Ljubicic
⚽ 90+3 Rhasalla pic.twitter.com/2h0ALiERVK
— FutbolArena (@futbolarena) September 19, 2019
Besiktas’ home form cannot be ignored and this will be tough for Wolves. This could be the start of the Besiktas revival and playing a Wolves side who are yet to win away is not the worst fixture to have. I see a surprise home win.
Pick: Besiktas to win (+205)
Feyenoord vs. FC Porto Odds
|Feyenoord||+0.5 (-130)||+235||O 2.5 (-120)|
|FC Porto||-0.5 (+105)||+110||U 2.5 (EVEN)|
It’s a tricky one to call in Rotterdam, as Feyenoord entertain FC Porto. The hosts ended their three-game winless run at the weekend when they hammered FC Twente 5-1, but the Portuguese will offer an altogether more difficult test. Porto are in good form and won again at the weekend when they beat Rio Ave 1-0, earning their third consecutive clean sheet.
Feyenoord lost their Europa League opener 1-0 against Rangers while Porto beat Young Boys 2-1, results that were wholly reflective of their respective starts to the season.
The visitors start as clear favorites, and with good reason following a fine run of clean sheets and narrow victories over the last month, while Feyenoord have struggled to find form of late and have failed to score twice in their last four outings. The stats point to a home win and even at +110 there is still some value to be had here.
Pick: FC Porto to win (+110)