YOU didn't think the 2019/20 season was over did you? That's the thing about The Longest Season, it just keeps getting longer. And longer. But in fairness to UEFA, the restructured European competitions do look enticing, from the quarter-finals onwards at least – a mix of the original do-or-die jeopardy of the old European Cup combined with the restless scheduling of a World Cup. To help you navigate part one, here are this week's Europa League betting atips.
In LASK Linz's first eight Europa League games this season, they conceded five goals. In the ninth, that number doubled as Man Utd triumphed 5-0 in March. That result extended Utd's unbeaten record against Austrian sides – nine matches, eight wins, no defeats, just one goal conceded.
Back then, the Europa League looked like a last resort for Utd. Months on, with a Champions League place secured, there will be much less pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side. Given the confidence flowing through Utd's attacking ranks just now, that decrease in pressure could be a game-changer in the latter stages.
Mason Greenwood has scored five goals from just eight shots on target in the Europa League so far including an injury time effort in the first leg. He's 17/20 to score any time, but backing him to score two or more could be the way to go.
Inter's strong finish to the season which saw them finish second, just a point behind Juventus, did little to quell Antonio Conte's frustration. The infamous nark launched into a trademark tirade against the board ahead on an important summer. Nevertheless, Conte's side come into this game unbeaten in eight matches having scored at least two in seven of them.
Getafe's remarkable recent uplift continued in La Liga however they fell two points short of a second straight top six finish – a bitter pill to swallow after dropping 16 points from the last 18 available. Getafe's season hit the rails, and now they have to raise themselves for a one-off clash with one of Europe's most well-drilled sides. That's a tough gig.
Up front, Conte can call on Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez who are enjoying their best ever scoring seasons and Alexis Sanchez who is finally hitting top form. This is where the game will be won for Inter.
Since a suckerpunch defeat to Celta in Febuary, Sevilla have gone 17 matches unbeaten. Only an inferior goal difference nudged them into fourth place behind Atletico Madrid, but they qualified for the Champions League with a 10-point gap from fifth-placed Villarreal.
Roma were essentially the Villarreal to Lazio's Sevilla as Paolo Fonseca's side finished eight points back in fifth, but they are currently on a mighty fine run of their own: seven wins and a draw in eight matches, averaging 2.9 goals score per game. Last time out Roma saw off newly crowned champions Juventus 3-1 on their own patch.
However, Sevilla's defence is a force to be reckoned with. They've conceded just one goal in five games, and post-lockdown, managed to shut out Barcelona and Real Sociedad, La Liga's highest and fourth highest scorers. If they can keep it tight, I'm backing an attack spearheaded by official La Liga signing of the season Lucas Ocampos to win it for the Spaniards.
After 146 days the #UEL is !
Here's a reminder of what's happened so far this season… pic.twitter.com/X0aKLNO83o
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) August 3, 2020
3-1 down from the first leg, Rangers have a mountain to climb against one of the most exciting sides in European football this season. And history is not encouraging – the Gers have won just one of 19 away matches against German sides in major European competitions – losing 10 – and only managed to score in five of them. If there's such a thing as a silver lining to such a daming stat, the exception was a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen in 1998.
Steven Gerrard will be buoyed by the fact Leverkusen have not played a competitive game since losing the DFB Pokal Final 4-2 to Bayern a month ago. He won't however take much solace from Leverkusen squandering a top four place with some poor post-lockdown results. One chance to reach the Champions League has gone, now Leverkusen have another.
Leverkusen are insistent that Chelsea/ every top club in Europe target Kai Havertz will remain a Leverkusen player until their Europa League campaign is over, so he is expected to start. If he does, Rangers' very slim hopes of an unlikely turnaround get even slimmer.
More than a year after starting their European campaign, Wolves, like Leverkusen, are seeking to get over the disappointment of missing out on the top four by winning the Europa League. After a 1-1 draw in Greece, Nuno Espirito Santo's side are well-placed but Olympiakos are not here to make up the numbers as Arsenal found out in the last round.
Pedro Martins' side overturned a 1-0 defeat to triumph on away goals at the Emirates. Post-lockdown, the Greek champions won eight of their 10 Super League matches, scoring at least three in three of the last four games, to finish 18 points ahead of PAOK.
Wolves' home form in Europe has not just been strong, it's been getting stronger: seven games played, just two conceded, three straight clean sheets in the last three. In attack, it's arguably more encouraging with Diogo Jota incredibly scoring back-to-back hat-tricks in the last two at Molineux. Olympiakos will not give in, but Wolves will get the job done.