After Celtic’s humiliating loss to Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps in the Champions League second qualifying round earlier this week, two more Scottish hopes are about to have their continental credentials questioned, this time in the Europa League.
Edinburgh nemeses Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian step into the breach this evening and backing against both alongside a win for underappreciated Kairat Almaty will see punters pocket a fortune.
Birkirkara to beat Hearts @ 7/2
Underestimating Birkirkara is a risky business, as West Ham United found out to their cost last term.
A strong Irons outfit were beaten 1-0 in Malta before prevailing on penalties at this stage last term.
The result came as a surprise, but maybe it shouldn’t have, given the Stripes have only lost one European match in front of the faithful since 2012, with six foes welcomed in that timeframe.
Hearts shipped two against Estonia’s Infonet last time out; this will be a tougher proposition entirely.
Brondby to beat Hibs @ 6/5
The institution that helped hone the skills of the Laudrup brothers, Peter Schmeichel and John ‘Faxe’ Jensen visit Easter Road not as underdogs, but with an odds-against price wager-makers can’t ignore.
Brondby signed off the previous Danish Superliga with no fewer than three successive road wins and they visit a team who do an excellent impression of a furry, little bunny in the beams of an onrushing oil tanker when gracing this competition.
They’ve lost five straight on rare forays into the Europa League, conceding ten goals across their previous two home games against Malmo and Maribor.
Kairat to beat Maccabi Tel Aviv @ 23/20
Tel Aviv featured in last season’s Champions League and will more than likely advance over two legs, but overturning a first-leg deficit will be essential if they are to progress.
Crvena Zvezda, Aberdeen and, most recently, Bordeaux are among the high-profile foes to fall in this corner of Kazakhstan, where the locals have won ten of their last 11 domestic games.