Shamrock Rovers find themselves in a strange predicament: good enough to win their domestic league, but not good enough for European competition proper. Not yet, anyway.
They currently sit joint-top of the Irish Airtricity League with a game in hand following some impressive recent results including a 6-0 drubbing of UCD last Friday and a return of 15 wins from 25 games.
Results on the European front tell a different story. Buoyed by the opportunity of Champions League football, Rovers shrugged off the challenge of Estonian champs Flora Tallinn over two legs without conceding a goal.
But when faced with the considerably tougher prospect of Danish title-winners FC Copenhagen, they were soundly beaten home and away without finding the net.
With a Europa League spot the consolation for their Champions League failure, Rovers must now see off highly decorated Serbian champs Partizan Belgrade over two legs to secure some kind of European football this season.
Tonight’s first-leg is at home so expect Rovers to come out and attack in the knowledge that they have only found the net three times in the last seven away games and not at all in their two European away ties this season.
As a result a high-scoring open game occurring is reflected in odds of both teams to score standing at 91/100, and with Partizan having won their last league game 5-0 they know how to find the net.
Over 3.5 goals is 13/5 for the risk-takers among you, while for the slightly more cautious there is over 2.5 at 21/20.
A successful £25 free bet on there being at least four goals will net punters £90.
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At 7/100 to advance to the next round there is no doubting Partizan are the firm favourites outright, but that isn’t to say a draw in the first leg is out of the question from a battling Rovers side with little to lose.
At 21/10 the tie gives a nice return, but the Rovers win at 31/10 is probably too optimistic.
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