Europa League preview: Will Arsenal freeze against Ostersunds?
Also featuring Napoli, AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and Lazio
The Champions League has produced some great football this week. And the Europa League could follow suit with a packed schedule on Thursday.
There are 15 first-leg ties taking place tonight in the round of 32. The Coral News Team have looked at some of the big talking points ahead of the action and come up with a few tips too…
Can Arsenal cope with the weather conditions?
Arsenal are currently sixth in the Premier League, eight points off the top four. That means their best chance of getting into next season’s Champions League will be by winning the Europa League this term. They’re 9/2 second-favourites.
But they’ll face freezing temperatures in their first-leg tie against Ostersunds. They’ll have to adapt to a 4G pitch too.
The Gunners still have the quality to get it a result. However, it won’t be easy. Draw / Arsenal is 3/1 in the Half Time / Full Time market.
How seriously will Napoli go for it?
Napoli have a great chance of ending Juventus’ six-year domination of Serie A this season. They’re currently a point ahead of the Old Lady, with 14 games to go.
A full-strength Napoli side would be a real contender to go all the way in this competition too. But will they rest some of their players to keep them fresh for their league push?
Whatever line-up Maurizio Sarri selects, their home tie against RB Leipzig could be a cracker. There have been Over 3.5 Goals in three of Napoli’s last five home games. It’s 2/1 for the same outcome here.
AC Milan can’t afford to lose
After spending over £200m in the summer, Champions League qualification was the minimum expectation for AC Milan this term.
It’s not gone to plan so far. They’re currently seventh in Serie A, 10 points off Inter Milan in third. Like Arsenal, this competition could be their best chance of getting a seat at Europe’s top table.
They’ve got a favourable draw against Ludogorets, who haven’t played a competitive game sinec mid-December. Milan to Win to Nil is 11/5.
Can Atletico Madrid live up to favourites tag?
Atletico Madrid lead the betting as 7/2 favourites for the trophy. It’s not hard to see why either.
Diego Simeone has drilled them into one of the best defensive units in Europe and they’ve got plenty of firepower with Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa up front. They’ve got real European pedigree too, having been in two of the last four Champions League finals.
But there’s a sense that Atletico and Simeone are more comfortable as the underdogs than the frontrunners, scrapping their way to victory against more illustrious sides.
Either way, they shouldn’t have too many problems against FA Copenhagen. Kevin Gameiro could get a run out up front. It’s 2/1 that he scores in an Atletico win.
Are Lazio dark horses to go all the way?
Lazio are 16/1 to lift the Europa League trophy in May. However, they’ve got the talent to cause a few surprises and an impressive young manager in Simone Inzaghi.
They’re the second highest scorers in Serie A with 59 goals. And Ciro Immobile leads the way in the division with 20 goals this term.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing