Odds Boosts and Betting Tips on Rennes v Arsenal, Frankfurt v Inter & Zagreb v Benfica
The Europa League is back and we have odds boosts on Arsenal, Eintracht Frankfurt and Benfica, all big sides left in the competition and all with hopes of adding further trophies to their already well stocked cabinets. Remember these flash odds will only last for a limited period so get in quick.
Rennes v Arsenal
Arsenal Manager Unai Emery has been refreshingly positive about his sides preparations over the last few days and unlike fellow Premier League managers was not willing to get in some pre-emptive excuses about how tight the schedule is for Premier League sides at this stage of the season. Arsenal for their part have played 5 games in 15 days and it was noticeable that they rested the likes of Aubameyang and Torreira from Saturday's North London derby. After Torreira's 3 match league ban for his red card in that game and Lacazette's suspension following a dismissal against BATE we can expect both those players to return to fold in tonight's fixture.
Arsenal will be looking at the Europa league and feeling as though they have a genuine chance of silverware. This fixture pits the North Londoners against a side that exceeded expectations last season but is struggling to relive them this time around. Rennes currently sit 10th in the Ligue 1 and baring a dramatic turnaround in form they look destined to languish in mid-table mediocrity this year.
One familiar name on the team sheet will be Hatem Ben Arfa, the exceptionally talented but somewhat flakey French forward has been in fairly good form for Rennes this year and will doubtless be looking to remind the world of football just what could have been if he had the application to match his God given talent.
As mentioned above Lacazette is suspended for this match leading to call up of 18 year old Eddie Nketiah to a squad that is otherwise unchanged from Saturday's trip to Wembley.
For their part Rennes are without former Milan and Watford loanee M'Baye Niang who is also serving a suspension.
- Arsenal have never lost an away game against French opposition
- The Gunners have been incredibly consistent in their European campaigns in recent history, reaching the quarter finals or better for the 16th successive time
- Rennes have conceded just once in their last 3 home matches
Arsenal's away form all season has been patchy at best but they should have the quality and motivation to get something from this game and put themselves in the driving seat for the return leg at the Emirates.
I would expect Arsenal to score in this tie but I also wouldn't be surprised if they conceded. You can back the game to finish above 2.5 goals at around evens
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Eintracht Frankfurt v Inter Milan
While the German team are perhaps the less illustrious name in this tie their pedigree and quality should not be underestimated and Inter Milan will need to up their game in order to come away with a result from this fixture. Indeed, Frankfurt came through arguably the hardest group with a 100% win record so they certainly need to be taken as serious contenders for the this year's trophy.
Frankfurt's recent form has seen them move up the Bundesliga table to 5th and they are well in the hunt to go one better than this year and claim a place in Europe's elite competition. Inter's Serie A rivals Lazio will be all to aware of the threat that Die Adler possess given that they lost to them home and away this year.
By contrast Inter have been struggling to find form particularly away from the San Siro. There is no doubting the individual talent of the likes of Icardi, Nainggolan and Perisic but despite those stellar names Inter have dropped away from the top 2 in Serie A. Having lost 7 games already in the league this season, Inter's backline has often been exposed and the Nerazzurri have a habit of conceding soft goals.
Croatian World Cup star Ante Rebic will be unable to line-up against his national teammate Ivan Perisic due to a knee injury sustained at the weekend while Lucas Torro remain on the sidelines.
Another knee injury and a major blow to Inter's chances comes in the shape of top scorer Mauro Icardi's withdrawal from the squad. Keita Balde Diao and Sime Vrsaljko are also unavailable for the Milan giants.
- Frankfurt are unbeaten in this year's Europa League having won 7 and drawn 1 of their games to date
- In fact Frankfurt have lost just once in their last 13 games in all competitions
- There have been 17 goals scored in the 4 Europa League games played at the Commerzbank-Arena this season
The price on Frankfurt to win this match is already pretty healthy given their recent record and is perhaps as much a result of punters over backing the big name club as it is a reflection of the true odds. Icardi's injury and continuing speculation over his future at the club do not help Inter's cause and therefore taking Frankfurt at the boosted odds is a no-brainer.
These are 2 sides better equipped to score goals than prevent them and as recent history suggests we should get some goalmouth action in this match. Again the price on this match being over 2.5 goals looks really inviting, take it at anything over evens!
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Dinamo Zagreb v Benfica
Dinamo Zagreb come into this round following a great comeback win against Viktoria Plzen in which they overturned an away deficit in the leg to win 3-0 at home. That victory is sure to give the Croats a massive boost of confidence as will the fact that they sit 14 points clear at the top of their domestic league.
Similarly Benfica sit a top of the Primeira League but they are embroiled within a much tighter race for the title with arch rivals Porto breathing heavily down their neck. Will they favour success on the domestic front over a tilt at European glory? They certainly have the quality to succeed in both competitions and while we have seen free flowing, attack minded football from them during most of the season with the likes of Haris Seferović and Pizzi at the heart of most good things to happen in the final third, we have also seen that they can defend resolutely when called upon. Certainly that was the case in the last round against Galatasaray where Benfica took a lead into the 2nd leg and then shut-up shop in executing a 0-0 draw.
While Zagreb don't have any household names in their ranks, it is clear that the club is quite happy to be considered one where the team is greater than the sum of its parts. Despite their dominance in the league, their top goal scorer for the season, Bruno Petkovic has just 8 goals to his name and yet almost all players within the forward and midfield positions have chipped in with at least 4 or 5 goals as well suggesting that Dinamo could hurt the opposition from almost anywhere on the pitch. Zagreb have also bolstered their squad during the January transfer window by signing prolific centre-forward Komnen Andrić who becomes the first Serbian to play for Dinamo for 29 years.
The biggest name missing from tonight's game is Argentine international winger Eduardo Salvio who prior to this meeting had been an ever present in Benfica's Europa League campaign netting 3 goals in 8 appearances.
- Benfica are the top scorers in the Primeria league averaging 2.75 goals a game
- Benfica have won their last 5 league games to carry them to the top of their domestic table
- Since returning from the winter break, Dinamo have won all 5 home games they've played, scoring 14 goals in the process while conceding just 2
- Dinamo are unbeaten in their last 7 Europa League home ties
This is a difficult one to call given that the local crowd will provide a partisan atmosphere that will go some way to making up for the lack of quality in comparison to their visitors. That being said, Benfica have enough talent and experience to deal with the situation and I can see them wanting to take the advantage back to Portugal in much the same way they did in the last round against another side that is good at home in Europe, Turkish giants Galatasaray.
It could well be a cagey affair as 1st legs often are but given Benfica's creative abilities and form of late then the current price of 2.3 for over 2.5 goals looks good value.
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