Thursday's Europa League four-fold comes in at a smooth 9/1!
Zenit St Petersburg v Fenerbahce - 17:55
In Thursday’s early kick-off, I’m backing Zenit to beat Fenerbahce.
The Russian side head into this on the back of a 1-0 defeat in Turkey, but with five Europa League wins out of five at the Gazprom Arena, they are still favourites to win on the night.
Fenerbahce are having an inexplicably awful season in the Turkish Super Lig – sitting 15th and in grave danger of being relegated – and with two defeats and one draw on the road in the Europa League, may see their journey cut short on Thursday.
Bayer Leverkusen v FK Krasnodar
Next, I’m backing Bayer Leverkusen to beat Krasnodar at home.
With the first leg ending goalless, Leverkusen will be confident of beating Krasnodar in what’s their first away game of 2019. Sevilla and Standard Liege have both got the better of Krasnodar on the road in this competition, while Bayer earned seven points from their three group stage matches at the BayArena.
The Germans’ record at home in the Bundesliga is also strong: five wins from their last six makes a home win on Thursday look a strong likelihood.
Benfica v Galatasaray
Benfica have won their last six matches – including a first leg victory over Galatasaray – and I’m backing them to make it seven at the Estádio da Luz on Thursday.
The 2-1 victory in Istanbul has put Benfica in the driving seat, and considering the Turkish side lost all three of the Champions League away games (against Porto, Schalke and Lokomotiv Moscow) without scoring, they don’t have much hope of getting a result here.
There’s no doubt Benfica are dark horses this year, and a solid home win against Galatasaray would be a good statement of intent.
Genk v Slavia Prague
Genk and Slavia Prague played out a goalless draw in the first leg of this tie last week, and I’m backing the Belgian side to win and progress on Thursday.
Slavia have lost two of their three Europa League away games to nil this campaign (against Zenit and Bordeaux); Genk are unbeaten at the Cristal Arena (including qualifiers), comfortably winning five of their six matches.
Genk have also scored 14 goals in their seven Europa League (proper) matches, while Slavia have scored just four.
It’ll be a close one, as Slavia have shown they can defend, but I’m backing Genk to win and go through.