- On Thursday, August 19th, eight of the ten first leg Europa League Qualifying playoff matches kick off across Europe
- Twenty teams remain in the playoff round with all ten winners of the aggregate matches advancing to the coveted Europa League group stage
- Get the odds, our analysis and betting prediction below
This past weekend, most, if not all clubs kicked off their domestic campaigns in a football-packed weekend. With the start of club football, comes the conclusion of qualifying for some major European competitions hosted by UEFA. The Europa League specifically, is entering the playoff stage of their qualifying rounds with eight matches taking place on Thursday.
Europa League qualifying is frankly confusing and that is probably an understatement, so here is some clarification on who will be playing. Overall, the playoff round of qualifying features 20 teams and ten aggregate fixtures, two of which are being played on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
UEFA Europa League Qualifying Playoff Leg 1 Odds
|Randers FC vs Galatasaray||+250||+240||+110|
|Omonia Nicosia vs Antwerp||+180||+210||+170|
|Slavia Prague vs Legia Warsaw||-200||+320||+575|
|NS Mura vs Sturm Graz||+330||+275||-120|
|Fenerbahce vs HJK Helsinki||-310||+425||+850|
|Rapid Vienna vs Zorya Luhansk||-135||+290||+350|
|Rangers vs Alashkert||-800||+800||+1800|
|Olympiacos vs Slovan Bratislava||-265||+390||+750|
Odds as of August 17 at DraftKings
Of those clubs, six are entering this round as domestic cup winners from six different associations across Europe. Five are winners from the “Champions Path” of Europa League qualifying and three are advancing from the “Main Path” of Europa League qualifying. Finally, six clubs are entering in this round of qualifying as losers from the third round of Champions League qualifying, including clubs like Rangers and Olympiacos.
With eight games on Thursday, this will be the busiest day in the playoff round for Europa League qualifying. These matches are of course only first leg fixtures, with the second round taking place on the 26th of August. As a final reminder, goal difference is no longer a factor in these matches, which takes a little pressure of the home teams in this first leg.
Randers FC vs Galatasaray Prediction
The first game to highlight this weekend is between Randers FC of Denmark and Galatasaray of Turkey. Firstly, Randers have started off their domestic campaign extremely well, accumulating 13 points in just five matches. The club, managed by Thomas Thomasberg sees itself ahead of other Danish giants like Midtjylland and Copenhagen. However, their opponents on Thursday will present a much larger challenge.
— Galatasaray EN (@Galatasaray) August 17, 2021
Before their last qualifying match, things were quite shaky for Galatasaray. They were beaten out of the Champions League by Eindhoven and were only able to earn a draw at home to major underdogs, St. Johnstone. Nonetheless, they battled in the second leg and won 4-2 in a tough environment. Since, they have also added a league win Giresunspor by a score of 2-0, also away from home.
I chose to not favor Galatasaray in the last match and they proved me wrong. They have won their last two away matches and their offense has seemed to have finally woken up. With moneyline odds of +110, this is a sure-fire pick.
Pick: Galatasaray moneyline (+110)
Rangers vs Alashkert Prediction
The next match is between Rangers of Scotland and Alashkert of Armenia. This match is specifically interesting because Rangers are easily one of the more exciting sides left in the competition. The side, managed by midfield legend Steven Gerrard, made it to the round of 16 in the Europa League last season.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) August 17, 2021
Regardless, it has not been all smooth sailing to start this year as they have lost to Dundee United domestically and fell out of the Champions League at the hands of Malmo. Still, one consistent thing about this Rangers side is that they love to score goals. Last year they scored 92 domestically, and there is quite a disparity in talent in this match. For those reasons, I see this first leg fixture being a goal-fest.
Pick: Over 3.5 total goals (+135)
Olympiacos vs Slovan Bratislava Prediction
Finally, the last highlighted Europa League match is between Olympiacos of Greece and Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia. Olympiacos fell out of the last round of Champions League qualifying to Ludogorets narrowly, while Bratislava fell out in the round prior to BSC Young Boys. Since then, Bratislava managed to slide by Lincoln Red Imps in the last round of Europa League qualifying by a score of 4-2.
Olympiacos continue signing players from Sevilla in their bid to build a team that can go all the way in the Europa League. Clever. https://t.co/7g0Px6CgoW
— Panos Kostopoulos (@Panos88K) August 17, 2021
Nonetheless, in their last five European matches, they have only managed to win once. Bratislava have been stellar domestically, but I expect them to struggle against a seasoned Olympiacos side. If Olympiacos do win, it will be by a narrow margin with a small scoreline. In fact, their last four wins were by a score of 1-0.
Pick: Under 2.5 total goals (-125)