After all the excitement of Manchester United and Celtic in the Champions League, it is the Europa League’s turn to take the spotlight and with Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United all in Thursday night action, there is plenty of English interest as the last 32 gets underway.
Liverpool look to have the trickiest tie of the quartet with their trip to Russia to face Zenit St Petersburg, but the other three sides look to have eminently winnable ties.
Chelsea go to the Czech Republic to face Sparta Prague, while Tottenham and Newcastle have home ties with Lyon and Metalist Kharkiv respectively.
And with all three looking likely to win, I would suggest that taking bwin’s enhanced price of 6/1 on the treble (the normal three-timer pays at 5/1) looks like the smartest thing you can do this evening.
Chelsea might be away from home, but they face a Sparta side that have not played a competitive match since December 6th due to their domestic winter break and even before the extended gap in playing time, the Czechs were not picking up many results.
Sparta have won just two of their last eight fixtures and with Rafa Benitez keen to do as well as possible in the Europa League before he leaves Stamford Bridge, Chelsea should be at full strength and looking to get the job done.
The Blues have scored 27 goals in 11 away games under Benitez and they will surely have too much for a limited Prague side.
Metalist are another side that have not played since December 6th due to the winter break in Ukraine and Newcastle can use that to their advantage at St James’ Park.
Alan Pardew’s side have been transformed since their business in the January transfer window, defeating Aston Villa and Chelsea before eventually succumbing to a Gareth Bale-inspired Tottenham last weekend.
But with no match to come on Sunday, Pardew can pick his strongest team, something he has not always done in the Europa League this season.
Not that his selection policy has undermined Newcastle, who have won three and drawn one of their home Europa League ties this term. They can beat a Metalist side that have lost three of their last five away games.
All of which leaves Tottenham, who face Lyon at White Hart Lane, to complete our treble. Andre Villas-Boas has taken the Europa League, a competition he won with Porto in 2011, very seriously from the get-go and with no fixture at the weekend he will again pick a full-strength Spurs side.
And I am convinced that will be too strong for Lyon, who, despite being second in Ligue 1, are not the force of old that won seven straight French titles between 2002 and 2008.
Remi Garde’s side have won just four of their last 11 away fixtures, in stark contrast to AVB’s boys, who are unbeaten in ten at the Lane, winning eight of them.
With the case made, all that is left is for you to get on that enhanced 6/1 here or by clicking ‘Add to Betslip’ below.