December. The month that every child loves, awaiting for Santa’s gifts under the tree, an opportunity for adults to relax and forget work for a while, but also a chance for big earnings, starting from the first day of the month and the Europa Leaugue fixtures.
It’s not the Champions League, there are only two English teams in the competition, Man City and Liverpool and many might want to wait until this weekend’s Premier League, but let me repeat what I always say to fellow betting enthusiasts: My fiance’s coat was courtesy of the League 1 and not the World Cup… With twelve groups and no less than 24 matches, there are plenty of opportunities to start planning your Christmas shopping.
This is the last chance for former Italian giants Juventus to save this year’s European campaign as they face Lech Poznan in Poland. The Polish are eleventh (!) in their domestic championship, but they have managed to upset the Italians in Turin by escaping with a 3-3 draw. Juventus, who of course they are not the powerhouse they used to be before the “Calciopoli” scandal, have a golden chance to climb to the top two with an away victory. We have seen them surprising the football world in the past, and even though they are not the team of the past, they’re still Juventus nonetheless.
In the City of Manchester Stadium, we should be expecting nothing less than a victory for the home side against Salzburg. They couldn’t take the three points against Stoke, but allow me to remind you that the Potters had a 4-match undefeated streak, with three victories, one of them against Liverpool. If they cannot defeat a team like Salzburg at home, then the Sheikh should start having doubts about his multi-million investment. I think he will have a pleasant sleep on Wednesday night.
Lech: 13/5 Draw: 11/5 Juventus: 11/10
Man City: 1/5 Draw: 5/1 Salzburg: 14/1
Leverkusen might have committed suicide in the German Bunderliga against Hoffenheim, conceiving the equaliser literally in the last second, but against Rosenbong they have a golden opportunity to book their tickets for the next round. Their first clash ended in a 4-0 triumph for the Germans at the BayArena, but this time a point will suffice and the 23/10 of the draw seems a very tempting option.
Atletico Madrid on the other hand would surely want to follow the Germans to the next round and they can achieve it with a sweet revenge against Aris Thessaloniki. The Greeks scored a shocking victory against the Europa League holders in the first match, but 2,5 months later they struggle in domestic competitions, even losing 1-0 to Panserraikos. Do you know that club? I do, because I am Greek, but for the rest of you, it is just a sign that you shouldn’t expect a second surprise by Hector Raul Cooper’s side.
Rosenborg: 9/4 Draw: 23/10 Leverkusen: 6/5
Atletico: 3/10 Draw: 4/1 Aris: 10/1
Sporting is through and leaves the rest struggle for the second place leading to the next round. This sentence just says it all for Group C. The Portuguese host Lille in Lisbon, who desperately need to at least keep the crucial one-point advantage, going to a Matchday 6 showdown against Gent.
For the Belgians and Levski of Sofia there is only one option: the 3 points. This way they will at least trail only by one against the French, otherwise, with only a point apiece and a potential away Lille victory in Lisbon, they will both stay out of contention. Expect a thrilling match, with attacking football and hopefully lots of goals.
Sporting: 13/10 Draw: 11/5 Lille: 11/5
Gent: 7/10 Draw: 13/5 Levski: 4/1
AEK Athens scored a tremendous victory in the derby against Olympiakos for the Greek Superleague, but Manolo Jimenez’s side has to keep up the pace in order to keep their qualification dream alive. They face Hajduk Split in Croatia, they are in even better condition than their first match which ended in a 3-1 victory for the Greeks, so why shouldn’t I bet on them? Sorry, it’s AEK Athens, a team which was defeated fair and square by Kavala (!), before triumphing against league-toppers Olympiakos. You think you know the meaning of the word unpredictable? Think again…
Zenit St Petersburg on the other hand has nothing to worry about. With a flawless record in the group they stand first, far above the second. They host Anderlecht who fiercely compete for the second place. They may the 3 points more, but the home side seems to be in a whole different level that the rest of the group. Quality against determination? We’ll see.
Hajduk: 13/10 Draw: 11/5 AEK Athens: 11/5
Zenit: EVS Draw: 11/5 Anderlecht: 3/1
VfB Stuttgart may be in the relegation zone of the Bundesliga, but they are thriving in European competitions. It’s a way to save a dreadful season and keep the fans satisfied, at least until next weekend. The Germans travel to Switzerland to face second of the group Young Boys. The Swiss desperately need the victory which will most probably secure them the second place.
In Denmark, OB Odense face Getafe. It’s a match without tomorrow for both teams, as with a draw or defeat they stay out of the competition. Of course victory won’t guarantee anything either, but hope dies last.
Young Boys: 5/6 Draw: 11/4 Stuttgart: 3/1
OB: 6/4 Draw: 23/10 Getafe: 7/4
This is not a match for surprises for Metalist Kharkiv, as they host disappointing Debrecen. It is vital for the Ukrainians to keep their 2-points lead against Sampdoria, as they visit the Netherlands in Matchday 6 to face PSV Eindhoven. Debrecen hasn’t even managed to obtain a point in the group thus far, and most likely they will remain with a big zero as they return to Hungary.
Sampdoria is in a similar position with Metalist, only that they are 2 points behind their second place competitors and face group leaders PSV for the crucial victory which will keep them on track. PSV would only need a point from their last two matches to qualify and most probably they will play conservatively in order to avoid defeat. A nice 23/10 draw will be my choice for this fixture.
Metalist: 1/5 Draw: 5/1 Debrecen: 14/1
Sampdoria: 6/4 Draw: 23/10 PSV: 7/4
* All odds are provided by William Hill