It’s the competition no team really wants to be in, but as Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez said this week of the Europa League: “We’re in it so we want to win it.”
Here are three sides who, with the right attitude, should be surefire bets to win their last 32 first-leg ties this Thursday.
At odds of 253/50, new customers using the ₤25 free bet they receive when they register with bwin would win ₤151.50 if Man Utd, Schalke and Udinese all come away with first-leg leads.
Manchester United to beat Ajax @ 18/25
United’s failure to qualify from Champion’s League Group C looks more like an aberration with every league victory they continue to pick up.
The defending champions top the Premier League ‘away table’ with eight away wins and while a visit to last season’s Dutch champions Ajax will be a serious test of United’s Europa League ambitions, squad players like Hernandez, Park Ji-Sung and Ashley Young should have enough quality to secure victory.
Schalke to beat Viktoria Plzen @ 21/20
The stars of uber-rich Schalke have started to shine in recent months, putting together a run of seven wins out of eight to help them climb to fourth in the Bundesliga.
Their quality was never in doubt in Europe, where they progressed unbeaten from Group J and a visit to Czech side Viktoria Plzen should hold no fears for players with established international pedigree including Raul and Klaas Jan-Huntelaar.
Udinese to beat PAOK Salonika @ 18/25
The Italians may have slipped off the top of Serie A and lost top scorer Antonio Di Natale for this game but their problems seem minor compared to those of financially-troubled PAOK, who saw their chairman leave last month.
That disruption means PAOK might struggle to end Udinese’s eight-match unbeaten run in European home games, especially if new Brazilian striker Barreto can fill Di Natale’s scoring boots
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