Following last week’s fireworks in the final round of Champions League group games, it is the turn of the Europa League to provide football betting fans with the last scraps of group-based continental action for the season.
And fresh from my banker treble success on matchday five, when Sporting Lisbon, Athletic Bilbao and Schalke all did the business, I’ve picked out another three teams who look certain to triumph on Wednesday night.
Using the free £25 bet available to anyone joining bwin.com on this treble could bring the festive gift of £80.92 for those of you who stay off Santa’s naughty list.
Dinamo Kiev to beat Maccabi Tel Aviv @ 23/100
Dinamo Kiev go into this game knowing that only a big win over Maccabi Tel Aviv will give them any hope of qualifying from Group E following their 1-1 draw with Stoke in the last round of games.
However, the Ukrainians will take some heart from the fact they are facing the weakest team in the group in Maccabi Tel Aviv, with the Israelis yet to win a game in five attempts in Europe this season.
Kiev are on a solid run of six games unbeaten, with five wins and one draw. Maccabi are unlikely to savour a visit to Kiev in the December chill, with many a team (including Manchester City last season) finding themselves freezing on Ukraine’s biggest footballing stage.
With odds of 23/100 available on a Dinamo win and with club legend and former Chelsea star Andriy Shevchenko on display, this has banker written all over it.
Steaua Bucharest to beat AEK Larnaca @ 53/100
With just a single point separating these teams going into the game, on paper Steaua Bucharest vs AEK Larnaca has all the makings of a tasty encounter.
However, it is only under closer examination that the Romanian hosts emerge as strong favourites. After all, Steaua come into the game with an impressive unbeaten home record that stretches back eight games in all competitions this season.
In the Europa League, meanwhile, that record has also incorporated results against CSKA Sofia and Schalke 04. Last time out in Europe at home, the Bucharest side were in fine form with a 4-2 win over Maccabi Haifa.
Attacking midfielder Cristian Tanase was the star on that occasion with a second-half brace settling the match, making the Romanian one to watch.
On the other hand, AEK Larnaca possess a notably poor record away from home, with the visitors failing to even score in their last three Europa League games on the road.
With qualification for the last 32 still a possibility for either team, Steaua will be determined to get the right result and home advantage should see them through.
Red Bull Salzburg to beat Slovan Bratislava @ 18/25
Red Bull Salzburg stand on the edge of greatness in the Europa League this season. Drawn in a group alongside newly-rich PSG and Marcelo Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao, few gave the Austrians much hope of qualifying.
However, after a string of reasonable results, a 2-0 home win over the French team has left the Salzburg side on the verge of a major breakthrough in Europe, following years of fruitless ventures into continental competition.
An away trip to Slovan Bratislava could prove challenging, but the Red Bull-backed side must be confident knowing that a win will see them through, regardless of PSG’s result.
The visitors will also be buoyed by the fact that Slovan Bratislava are another side without a win to their name in the Europa League this season.
Salzburg made short work of the Slovakians last time out with a 3-0 win and will carry plenty of attacking menace with Roman Wallner leading the line.
Add in the fact that Slovan may well play a shadow side as they are eliminated and have nothing to play for and it’s easy to see why the Austrian side should oblige at 18/25.
New customers can register here to claim a free £25 bet or click here to see all our Europa League odds.
Follow us on Twitter @bwinbetting