Category Archives: EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW

EUROPEAN SCOUTING REPORT: Celtic

EuropeanScoutingReport

Celtic

In a battle of two historic giants of European football, Ajax play host to Scottish champions Celtic on Thursday in the first game of UEFA Europa League Group A, Will Burns is on hand with a full lowdown on Ronny Deila’s men.

CelticNo stranger to European competition, Glasgow-based club Celtic hold the moniker of being the first British club to have won the European Cup defeating Inter Milan in the final in May 1967. Domestically, The Hoops have clinched a grand total of 46 Scottish League titles and the Scottish F.A. Cup on 36 occasions, while lifting the League Cup a total of 15 times.

In the 1966-67 European Cup winning season, Celtic enjoyed their most successful year when it comes to silverware which will possibly never ever be repeated. Not only claiming European football’s most coveted prize but winning the League title, the Scottish F.A. Cup, the League Cup and the lesser-known Glasgow Cup.

After dispatching the threat of Aberdeen last season on the way to lifting the League title once again, Champions League qualification was a mist for the Scottish giants. However, a disappointing qualification campaign in pre-season in which Scottish clubs wade through three sets of qualifiers before clinching as group stage spot, Celtic fell at the final hurdle. A 5-0 aggregate win over Icelandic champions KR Reykjavík meant Celtic must face their conquers from the 2013/14 qualifiers, Polish side Legia Warsaw. After crashing to a 4-1 defeat away in Warsaw, Ronny Deila’s men hit Legia with a 3-0 defeat to emerge to the playoff on away goals. NK Maribor stood in Celtic’s way of the group stages and unfortunately for The Bhoys after holding the Slovenian champions to a 1-1 draw, they failed to clinch the spot after Maribor captain Tavares notched the only goal of the game.

Deila now has to prepare Celtic for another Europa League run after his first one ended in a valiant, but failed effort (4-3 on aggregate) last season with a last sixteen defeat to their 1966/67 final opponents Inter Milan.

TACTICS

The defending Scottish Premiership champions dropped two points to their closest rivals Aberdeen on Saturday lunchtime. What made things worse was that The Dons were down to ten-men when The Bhoys conceded the fatal second goal in a 2-1 defeat.

The result will have been a bitter blow to the confidence of Ronny Deila and his squad and Ajax and Frank de Boer may chomping at the bit, knowing this may be the perfect time to add more weight on The Hoops’ shoulders.

Celtic set up for Saturday’s game in a 4-2-3-1 formation and held the majority of the possession in the fierce but a close match at Pittodrie, however in front of goal is where they lost the game. Only three shots landed on target with eight sailing into the stands. The back four received a shake-up after Virgil van Dijk moved south to the Premier League in the transfer window so Tyler Blackett partnered Dedryck Boyata (pardon spelling in the below graphic) in the centre of the defence, wth Charlie Mulgrew on the left and the usually reliable Swedish right-back Mikael Lustig slotting into his normal position, although he did not appear comfortable dealing with Aberdeen’s crosses.

Celtic like to use a long ball from the back to send speedy striker Leigh Griffiths on his way racing onto goal, which is how the opener came about. Left-back Charlie Mulgrew launched a ball over the top of the Aberdeen back four onto Griffiths chest and Reds defender Andrew Considine pulled back the striker to give away a penalty. Griffiths converted for his ninth goal of the season.

150914 - Celtic

However, Aberdeen were encouraged by some slack passing by Boyata, and gradually claimed a foothold to fight back and grab an equaliser through a spot-kick of their own after the Belgian defender bundled Graham Shinnie over in the area in what was an unnecessary challenge. Adam Rooney stepped up to level the game up.

Tempers flared, as they do between these sides and Jonny Hayes was dismissed on 72 minutes for rash challenge on Lustig. Defensive frailties were unveiled in the dying seconds when Celtic simply failed to defend a free-kick that allowed Paul Quinn, unmarked, to head home the winner and send Aberdeen top of the Scottish Premiership with a game in hand.

MANAGER PROFILE: Ronny Deila

A relatively young manager at only 39 years of age, former Norwegian defender Deila took over the reins at Parkhead in June last year after being very successful in his homeland with Strømsgodset, winning the Tippeligaen before leaving for Glasgow.

Quite the fan favourite for Hoops fans after just over a year in the job, Deila lead Celtic to a League and League Cup double but after failing to qualify for the Champions League football this year, the critics were out in force, pondering whether or not he is up for the job.

KEY PLAYER: Stefan Johansen

Strangely enough, Stefan Johansen arrived from Strømsgodset before Ronny Deila joined Celtic, then-manager Neil Lennon paid a £2 million fee for the midfielder. That price, after just over a year at the club, looks to be a absolute snip as Johansen has excelled and won acclaim for fans and the press for his performances in the League and Europe last term.

The 24-year old, Johansen is a technical, smart central midfielder with tremendous awareness for a pass. The left-footer’s range of passing is impressive and also a real threat from free-kicks. At Celtic he is played with as a creative playmaker in the middle of the park but can also be at home in a deep-lying role when protecting a lead.

Johansen will be have to be closely marked by Frank de Boer’s midfield with youngster Riechedly Bazoer or the experienced Nemanja Gudelj will have the task of keeping the Norwegian under control – both will have their hands full.

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EUROPEAN SCOUTING REPORT: Partizan Belgrade

EuropeanScoutingReport

PartizanBelgrade

This Thursday night John van der Brom takes AZ Alkmaar over to Serbia to face the stern test of Partizan Belgrade, here’s Milos Dusanovic of Serbian Footy to give us the lowdown on the current SuperLiga champions.

Partizan Belgrade

FK Partizan is one of the most famous and storied football clubs from the former Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe. They have won 26 league titles, 12 cup titles and were the first Eastern European club to appear in a major European final when they lost 2-1 to Real Madrid in the 1966 European Champions Cup.

Partizan has had modest success in Europe in the last 15 years, they have qualified for the Champions League group stages twice (2003 and 2010) and the Europa League group stages a total of seven times (2004,2006,2008,2009,2012,2014 and 2015). Partizan reached the round of sixteen of the Europa League in 2004 but since then they have only managed one victory in their last 26 group stage matches which is a truly terrible record. They will hope to end that horrible streak this time around but group L is extremely tough and it will take a lot for them to get a victory.

TACTICS

Partizan usually plays in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with most of their attacks coming from the wings through Andrija Živković and Aboubakar Oumarou. They also rely on the creativity of midfielders Stefan Babović and Saša Ilić to create goalscoring chances through the middle.

When it comes to Europe, the club installs defensive tactics and looks to hurt their opponents on the counter. Unfortunately this tactic does not work very well for them because the clubs back four is very weak and susceptible to mental and positioning errors.

150914 - Partizan Belgrade

The last match Partizan played was the 149th Belgrade Derby against bitter rivals Red Star this past weekend. Their defence was continuously cut apart in that match en-route to a disappointing 3-1 defeat. More of the same should be expected when they come up against stronger opposition in Group L.

MANAGER PROFILE: Zoran Milinković

Partizan’s manager is Zoran Milinković, he was appointed in late March and led the club to a league title. He is a experienced Serbian manager who is known for having organized sides that play hard.

He is currently on the hot seat and in danger of losing his job after the clubs poor performance in the Belgrade Derby. The usually dominant Partizan currently sits fourth in the league table with three losses from eight matches which is their worst start to a season since 2006/2007. If these disappointing results continue Milinković will be relieved of his duties before the end of the month.

KEY PLAYER: Andrija Živković

Partizan’s main danger man is without a doubt 19-year-old Andrija Živković. The speedy winger is one of the most coveted young players in Europe after leading Serbia to a surprising first place finish at this years’ FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

Živković is a difference maker on the pitch and his combination of speed and skill is very difficult for any side to deal with. He is Partizan’s main offensive weapon and the key to their counter attacking strategy in European matches.

Živković is also known for his set pieces, he can score free kicks and has a very good delivery from corner kicks which adds another potentially dangerous element to Partizan’s attacking play.

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UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW – SOUTHAMPTON VS. VITESSE

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THURSDAY 30TH JULY 2015

Southampton-Vitesse

SOUTHAMPTON vs. VITESSE ARNHEM (20:05 BST)

Southampton have already played some pre-season friendlies in the Netherlands against FC Groningen and Feyenoord (both 3-0 victories). The difference between the Saints and those two clubs was crystal clear. Which is not that strange based on their budget and that of Groningen & Feyenoord writes Martijn Hilhorst. Unfortunately for Vitesse, they are not that different from the teams who were already beat by Ronald Koeman’s men. The ‘Arnhemmers’ did have a great season with superb tactician Peter Bosz as their manager, but they did took a big hit this transfer window. Losing Marco Vejinovic and Davy Pröpper to Feyenoord and PSV respectively while first choice striker Bertrand Traoré returned to Chelsea after a loan spell at the Dutch outfit. Apparently, Chelsea was highly satisfied with the cooperation with Vitesse, because they have send Nathan, Lewis Baker, Izzy Brown & Danlio Pantic all on loan to ‘FC Hollywood aan de Rijn’ for the upcoming season.

One of the players who played wonderfully in both matches was Dusan Tadic. The Serbian playmaker played for FC Groningen and FC Twente in the Eredivisie before making the move abroad. He’s well known in the Netherlands, which could come in handy when Vitesse are facing him and ten other Southampton players this Thursday. It’s safe to say that Tadic is one of Saints’ key players; on the other side, we have a very similar player in Valeri Qazaishvili. The Georgian playmaker really showed his potential last season (he was our number 12 in #TDFTop50). ‘Vako’ now has the burden on his shoulder to take control at midfield with his fellow colleagues Vejinovic and Pröpper leaving.

Koeman has already stated in Dutch media that his side are favourites for the double confrontation with his former club Vitesse, because ‘Southampton are better in every aspect than Vitesse, especially when it comes to physique’. While we at TDF would love to see every Dutch club succeed, we do not expect that Vitesse will qualify for the next round as the Saints are basically too good to conquer. Thankfully, we can also ‘cheer’ for ‘The Saints’, who are the proud owners of the Eredivisie finest footballers we have produced over the last couple of seasons.

INFORMATION

Date: 30-7-2015 (20.05PM UK Time) UK TV: BT Sport 1 Stadium: St Mary’s (SOLD OUT; 32.500 fans, 1.500 from Vitesse) Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano Assistants: Angel Nevado Rodríguez / José Miranda Fourth Official: Santiago Jaime

Probable Line-Ups

Southampton (4-2-3-1): Stekelenburg, Soares, Yoshida, Fonte, Targett; Wanyama, Clasie; Mané, Davis, Tadic; Pellè

Vitesse (4-3-3): Room; Diks, Kashia, Leerdam, Achenteh; Baker, Vako, Nakamba; Brown, Durjdjevic, Oliinyk.

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EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW & BETTING TIPS

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Four Eredivisie sides in Europa League playoff action this Thursday night and Total Dutch Football’s Will Burns, Lawk Raoof and Ryan O’Grady provide their best bets for all four encounters.

THURSDAY 28TH AUGUST

EUROPA LEAGUE PLAYOFF SECOND LEG

Shakhtyor-PSV

FC SHAKHTYOR SOLIGORSK vs. PSV (18:00 BST)

The return leg in the Borisov Arena in Belarus will be an interesting match. The prize is €2m or €3m for qualifying, big interest and big prizes for both the teams, who will prevail? Lawk Raoof thinks PSV will find life easy in Belarus.

With a marginal 1-0 home win for PSV in the first leg, this upcoming clash for a Europa League place is hardly settled. The Eindhoven side narrowly defeated a good organized Shaktyor Soligorsk and with the previous Eredivisie clash against arch enemy Ajax, it will be a tough fight to win this game for De Boeren. With the great prize money on the line, both teams will be eager to get through. The home advantage cannot be ignored, winning 5-1 against Derry City and a 5-2 victory against Zulte Waregem are great wins and shows the power and thrive this teams has got in their home ties.

However PSV take with them two players in real form, Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay will be the great weapons for this match. Also, with the one goal lead, PSV can relax and Shaktyor has to attack to force a goal. This leads to an opportunity for Philip Cocu’s side to profit from the room they will get and counter, which was proven to be deadly against Ajax on Sunday.

Place a small stake on 2-0 for a PSV win, as the counter attack combined with the individual class of Depay and Wijnaldum means they will easily win this match in Belarus.

RECOMMENDED BET

PSV to win 2-0 (7/1 – Bet Victor)

Twente-Qarabag

FC TWENTE vs. QARABAĞ FK (18:30 BST)

Qarabag FK held FC Twente to 0-0 draw in Azerbaijan last week but Will Burns thinks Alfred Schreuder’s men should progress comfortably.

Qarabag showed last week that they had talents that could threaten Twente. The Brazilian contingent of Danilo Leandro Dias, Chumbinho, Richard Almeida and Reynaldo created problems from Darryl Lachman and Rasmus Bengtsson. However, Schreuder can boast talents like Hakim Ziyech, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Youness Mokhtar, Kasper Kusk and Luc Castaignos, the Enschede side are too strong to see a decent victory come full-time.

Except the home side to come out of this match with a two or three goal win to progress into the Europa League group stages in style.

RECOMMENDED BET

Twente -1 (13/8 – Bet Victor)

Feyenoord-Zoyra

FEYENOORD vs. ZOYRA LUHANSK (19:00 BST)

After an awful display at the weekend, Fred Rutten’s Feyenoord will look to bounce back on Thursday and send themselves through to the Europa League group stages, Ryan O’Grady believes they can.

A potentially season-changing game awaits Feyenoord on Thursday night. An uneventful and rather dull first leg ended in 1-1 draw which means that if the second leg ends 0-0, which is a possibility consider the performances in the first leg, it will see Feyenoord progress into the group stages.

However if Zorya were able to spring an upset and Feyenoord were knocked out then it is almost certain that Jordy Clasie will leave, if it is has not already (he missed training on Monday adding more fuel to the fire). Such a top quality player isn’t likely to stay with the club if there is no European competition and it could also affect whom the club bring in as no Europa League means less money with which Fred Rutten and the board will able to play with, which is likely to completely rule out the signing of a striker such as Guidetti, a signing that already didn’t look promising.

A much improved performance is needed for Fred Rutten’s side after a disappointing defeat at home to FC Utrecht at the weekend, whilst Zorya are coming off the back of a 0-0 draw away to Chernomorets.

RECOMMENDED BET

Feyenoord to win 2-1 (8/1 – Bet Victor)

SpartaPrague-PECZwolle

SPARTA PRAGUE vs. PEC ZWOLLE (19:20 BST)

Ron Jans’ PEC Zwolle are in the form team in the Netherlands right now, starting an undefeated season with wins over Vitesse and Ajax, however Will Burns thinks it may be tough in Prague on Thursday night.

Zwolle improved vastly in the second half on Sunday to clinch a great 2-1 win over Vitesse and were dreadfully unlucky not to grab a win last Thursday. After missing a penalty in the first leg, defender Maikel van der Werff scored a free-kick, albeit deflected, on Sunday in the home victory.

They travel to Prague to face Sparta who over the weekend lost a derby match against Dukla Prague by a goal to nil, which may inspire them to triumph in this match to appease the home fans. They currently sit fourth in the Czech top flight with nine points in five games.

This match could be a tight one, with Sparta defending their away goal or Zwolle will go forward in search to a vital away goal themselves. Either way, expect this game to finish a draw, either going to extra time (1-1) or a Zwolle away goals win (2-2).

RECOMMENDED BET

Draw (3/1 – Bet Victor)

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EUROPA LEAGUE: Preview and Betting Tips

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Four Eredivisie teams head into the Europa League playoffs this Thursday and Will Burns and Lawk Raoof is here to inform you which bets provide the key to profit in the first legs.

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

THURSDAY 21ST AUGUST

Qarabag-Twente

QARABAĞ FK vs. FC TWENTE (17:00 BST)

Alfred Schreuder heads into a hard trip to Azerbaijan with the best squad FC Twente has in recent years, however Will Burns suggests that the Horsemen of Azerbaijan will not make it easy for the Enschede boys.

Qarabağ FK’s 2-1 home victory against Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg was an extraordinary result in the Champions League third qualifying round first leg, particularly as Salzburg battered Ajax 6-1 over two legs in the Europa League last year and in this game, Gurban Gurbanov’s side finished the match with only nine men.

Strangely enough, Qarabağ and Twente have met at this stage before in 2009/10 with the Eredivisie side winning 3-1 in the home leg but held to a goal-less draw in the return leg. I feel that Twente will be two strong over the two legs but may find life difficult in Stadium Tofig Bahramov Republican. Their coach Gubanov at only 42-years-old has had six years at the club and he has them playing attractive football and they are not reliant on one player.

The side has a Brazilian contingent, with winger Danilo Leandro Dias, attacking midfielder Chumbinho, anchorman Richard Almeida and forward Reynaldo vital components in the side. However, against the likes of new signings Hakim Ziyech and Kamohelo Mokotjo, creative midfielder Youness Mokhtar, speedy winger Kasper Kusk and clinical striker Luc Castaignos, Twente should have enough power in their eleven to sneak a narrow win.

Twente are favourites and rightly so, however do not expect a whitewash, the Dutch side to win 1-0 or 2-1. A Twente win is valued at Bet Victor at 17/20 and I feel that is the safest and recommended bet in this first leg tie.

RECCOMMENDED BETS

Twente to win (17/20 – Bet Victor)

PSV-Shakhtyor

PSV vs. FC SHAKHTYOR SOLIGORSK (17:45 BST)

Lawk Raoof tells you to tune in this Thursday night for a solid 3-0 win by PSV against Belarusian Cup winner FC Shakhtyor Salihorsk. Be ready to view the clash between David versus Goliath, PSV versus Shaktyor, a Europa League group place versus nothing.

PSV started the Eredivisie season with a great 3-2 win against Willem II and a beastly 6-1 home-win against NAC Breda with World Cup stars Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay in a defining role. The first leg of the two games will be at the Phillips Stadium in Eindhoven this Thursday, while the second game will be in Belarus, against 2014 cup-winner FC Shakhtyor Salihorsk. The team started in 1961 and has a small capacity of just 4,200 fans in their stadium.

It should not be any surprise that the team should not be underestimated, with quick wingers and a direct playing style they are a typical counter-team. To comprise the danger coming from this fit team is to look at their win against Zulte Waregem (BEL) with an aggregated 7-4 win and their aggregated win against Irish side Derry City of 6-2. Both games with a flashing counter-attack.

However, with the current form of the PSV players, their teamwork and class they will easily win this game by my prediction by 3-0. The team out of Belarus comes out of a poor quality league and has only came so far by winning both second and third qualifying round games against weak opponents and winning the 2014 national cup.

I recommend placing a small stake on PSV to win 3-0 at 6/1 at Bet Victor. Cocu’s men will explode out of the blocks and this time with great combination game defeat this enemy.

RECCOMMENDED BETS

PSV to win 3-0 (6/1 – Bet Victor)

Zoyra-Feyenoord

FC ZORYA LUHANSK vs. FEYENOORD (18:45 BST)

Fred Rutten’s Feyenoord face a tough trip to the Ukraine to face Zoyra Luhansk, a team that struggled to defeat Norweigans Molde FK in the last round in a narrow 2-1 win. Will Burns feels that Rutten’s men may be too strong for the Ukrainians.

The Rotterdammers will have to be aware of striker Pylyp Budkivskiy who has notched once in four games this season so far but is well capable of putting himself about and ruffling the feathers of any defence. The Luhansk side have done their homework and speaking to UEFA.com, the Zorya head coach Yuriy Vernydub seemed confident: “We didn’t expect easy opponents at this stage. Feyenoord are one of the strongest teams in the play-offs. We will do our best to give a respectable account of ourselves. They have some Dutch international players who played in Brazil, but there is nothing to be scared of. Chornomorets Odesa beat PSV last season and we will have our chances.”

Rutten will also be confident heading into Ukraine with talent on the plane like Jordy Clasie, Jean-Paul Boetuis and Lex Immers and I cannot see Feyenoord being troubled too much, however I find it hard to see where the goals may come from. Stand-in striker Mitchell te Vrede has hardly been inspiring this season BUT to his credit he has been in the right place at the right time and scored two goals in two games so far.

Look Feyenoord to win by the single goal and the 1-0 scoreline is 13/2 at Bet Victor may be worth a small stake but taking Feyenoord to win gets you a price of 23/20 which is a safer bet.

RECCOMMENDED BETS

Feyenoord to win (23/20 – Bet Victor)

PECZwolle-SpartaPrague

PEC ZWOLLE vs. SPARTA PRAGUE (19:00 BST)

Excitement is in the air in Zwolle as Ron Jans leads his side into their first ever European adventure against Czech side Sparta Prague, Will Burns predicts it will be a good night for the Blauwvingers.

Domestically, PEC Zwolle are on fire. First defeating Ajax 1-0 in their own backyard for the Johan Cruijff Schaal then clocking up two wins in two games over FC Utrecht and FC Dordrecht. Like Czech football expert Chris Boothroyd mentioned in his piece yesterday, this is possibly the best time to play Sparta Prague. Champions League elimination via Swedish outfit Malmo FF and then crashing to Banik Ostrava at the weekend, Prague are on the ropes and an in-form Zwolle could smell blood and go to kill this tie off in the first leg.

Sparta will be missing influential midfielder Lukas Vacha, who will sit this game out due to a suspension after his last-minute dismissal against Malmo earlier this month. One link between the clubs will be Zwolle’s latest signing, Czech striker Tomas Necid. The big 6ft 3 forward was introduced in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Dordrecht and set up Mustafa Saymak’s 93rd minute winner. Necid grew up supporting Sparta’s bitter rivals Slavia and has also had two spells at the club, including his youth development.

Zwolle have their tails up and with this being their first ever venture into European football, I see Thursday being a special night and a win against their Czech rivals at the hot atmosphere inside the Ijsseldelta Stadion. Bet Victor are offering 8/5 for the home win and it is a fantastic price that cannot be ignored. I cannot see a price for a Tomas Necid anytime goal, however it would be a lovely story if he gets a run out.

RECCOMMENDED BETS

PEC Zwolle to win (8/5 – Bet Victor)

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EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW: SKN St. Pölten vs. PSV

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THURSDAY 7TH AUGUST

EUROPA LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – SECOND LEG

PSV-StPolten

SKN ST. PÖLTEN vs. PSV (18:00 BST)

After Thursday PSV will have qualified for the fourth qualifying round Europa League competition. However, it will not be as easy as many would have thought it would. Lawk Raoof suggests you read this preview to know why it won’t be easy to win.

PSV won the first game home with a marginal 1-0 against Austria newcomer Sportklub Niederösterreich St. Pölten. After a goal from Luuk de Jong who has immediately re-paid some of his summer transfer fee with a crucial goal. However, the Austrians have proven themselves to be physical strong and well-organised and ff there is something that PSV lacks is to play good against well-organized teams, especially without World Cup stars Georginio Wijnaldum & Memphis Depay. This explains the minimal 1-0 win but don’t worry these key-players have had one week of training and will highly likely be deployed as substitutes during the game to pull the game in favor of PSV.

With St. Pölten having 8,000 supporters backing them up and having the home-advantage, I can see PSV winning the game with only a 2-1 scoreline. For some people this is no disappointing outcome, however PSV is a top team and should walk all over the Austrians with at least four or five goals. However, missing key-players in every line it is obvious that Philip Cocu needs to pull everything out of the closet to make this win.

The most likely formation is: Zoet (GK), Tamata (LB), Hendrix (CB), Bruma (CB), Brenet (RB), Hiljemark (CDM), Wijnaldum (CDM), Maher (AM), Locadia (LF), De Jong (CF), Narsingh (RF)

I recommend placing a small stake at Bet Victor on PSV to win 2-1 at 15/2. Cocu’s men will explode out of the blocks and hit a wall like they did in the first game. However, considering the World Cup players are back and Depay and Santiago Arias can be used as aces when it turns bad Cocu should win this game.

BEST BET: PSV to win 2-1 (15/2 – Bet Victor)

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EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW: PSV vs. SKN St. Pölten

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THURSDAY 31ST JULY

EUROPA LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG

PSV-StPolten

PSV vs. SKN ST. PÖLTEN (18:00 BST)

Philip Cocu’s PSV should have no trouble disposing Austrian side St. Pölten, a team the Eindhoven side ironically defeated 1-0 away in a friendly with a very under strengthen squad earlier this month.

The Austrians do not play in the top flight and last season qualified for Europe for the first time. Qualification was gained by reaching the Austrian Cup final and although they were defeated 4-2 by Red Bull Salzburg, due to Salzburg winning the Austrian Bundesliga and competing in the Champions League this season, they find themselves in the Europa League qualifying stages. In the last round, they defeated Botev Plovdiv of Bulgaria over the two legs. Losing the first leg 2–1 but overcoming the Bulgarians 2-0 in the second leg to win 3-2 on aggregate.

To give them their full name, Sportklub Niederösterreich St. Pölten play in the Erste Liga and should prove no threat to PSV over the two legs. In fact for this first leg game, Bet Victor has them as major underdogs to win the match at 12/1.

I recommend placing a small stake on PSV to win 4-0 at 11/1 with Bet Victor. Cocu’s men will explode out of the blocks and as always, play the attacking style they are accustom to. Although, Cocu will be without World Cup stars, Santiago Arias, Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay, they have enough firepower to blow the Austrians away.

New signing from Mönchengladbach, Luuk de Jong, will be look to notch on his full debut at the Philips Stadion if he selected ahead of Jürgen Locadia. Sitting behind the striker will be Adam Maher, Oskar Hijlemark and Stijn Schaars who are all capable of scoring goals. Marcel Ritzmaier, himself an Austrian, may push for a start ahead of one of those three, after returning from a successful period on loan at SC Cambuur last year.

Another competent goal getter, Florian Jozefzoon should start on the right-wing with 20-year-old Mohamed Rayhi and 18-year-old Montenegrin Aleksandar Boljević vying for the right-wing slot after impressing in friendlies.

With a back four boasting Dutch internationals Jeffrey Bruma and Jetro Willems, in the midst of Jeroen Zoet in goal, St. Pölten will find it hard unearthing the PSV net.

BEST BET: PSV to win 4-0 (11/1 – Bet Victor)

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EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW: FC Groningen vs. Aberdeen

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THURSDAY 24TH JULY

EUROPA LEAGUE – SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING – SECOND LEG

FCGroningen-Aberdeen

FC GRONINGEN vs. ABERDEEN

WhiScottish Police are set to travel with Aberdeen fans to the Netherlands in an effort to control any trouble before and after the second qualifying round Europa League match-up against FC Groningen. There is expected to be some fireworks on the field as both teams try to qualify for the third round qualifying game to be played at the end of the month.

Groningen will be favorites having held the Dons to a scoreless draw in the first leg, at Pittodrie. The Scottish outfit have new summer signing David Goodwillie to call upon with an eye on finding a goal to see them through. Aberdeen will have to curb the influence of the Dutch side’s talisman, Filip Kostic, if they are to stand a chance and forcing playmaker Tjaronn Cherry to cough up possession will be key for the visitors.

You can expect Groningen to take the game to their opponents and expect Danny Hoesen to be a force up front for the hosts.

FC Groningen have not played a role in Europe since 2007 and they will be looking to make sure they will progress to play Real Sociedad in the third qualifying round of the competition. Groningen should win this tie but Aberdeen should make it tough so the bet to look for should be Groningen to win with Both Teams To Score, which Bet Victor offer at a great 13/5.

BEST BET: FC Groningen win with Both Teams To Score (13/5 – BET VICTOR) – Click here to bet with BET VICTOR and receive up to £25 free bets for new customers.

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EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW: Aberdeen vs. FC Groningen

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THURSDAY 17TH JULY

EUROPA LEAGUE – SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG

Aberdeen-FCGroningen

ABERDEEN vs. FC GRONINGEN

The first Dutch football calendar gets underway this Thursday night in Scotland as FC Groningen travel across the water to play Aberdeen.

Last season Aberdeen qualified for Europe for the first time since 2009, finishing in third in the Scottish Premiership, which capped off a great 2013/14, their 100th year in Scottish top flight football. To add to the great finish in the league campaign The Dons added their sixth League Cup trophy to their cabinet with a penalty shootout victory against Inverness.

The Reds are likely to line up in fluid 4-2-3-1 formation that will see Adam Rooney (five goals in the first two qualifying ties) on his own up front with Jonny Hayes, Niall McGinn and veteran Barry Robson sitting behind him. Waiting in the wings will be new signing David Goodwillie on the bench. Goodwillie, formerly of Blackburn Rovers, signed on a free transfer after been released by Rovers at the end of last season.

Manager Derek McInnes knows that the Eredivisie side will be a tough game for his side: “Groningen have a bit of pace and presence, playing a similar system to ourselves. It will be a good test for us, but it will be a good test for them as well because we’ve got better as we’ve gone along. Groningen are a bit behind us in terms of competitive matches, but we are up and running. It is good to get competitve football now and we will certainly need to be competitive in the games against Groningen.”

To read more about Aberdeen, click here to read an excellent insight from Chris Rumbles.

FC Groningen head to Pittodrie with four new signings in tow. New first team goalkeeper Sergio Padt, tricky playmaker Jarchinio Antonio and striker Danny Hoesen will all get a start in Scotland with veteran substitute goalkeeper Peter van der Vlag in reserve. Losing young prodigy Richiaro Zivkovic to Ajax would have been a blow but Hoesen and Tjaronn Chery will be ready to step up to supply the goals.

Lining up in an attacking  4-3-3, one player looking to shine will be Filip Kostic. The Serbian left winger has been rumoured to be heading out of the Euroborg all summer, ready to move onto bigger and better things, however, Kostic is still present and look to him to give English right-back Shaleum Logan a torrid time on Thursday night.

I can see the Eredivisie side being too strong for Aberdeen and goals will be scored but it will be a tight one. With Hayes and Rooney in great form, life for the Groningen back four may be difficult and central defender partnership Johan Kappelhof and Eric Botteghin will have to be a the top of their game to keep a clean sheet.

Groningen to head home with an advantage is 17/10 at Bet Victor but you may want to sit on the fence and go for the draw at 12/5.

BEST BET: FC Groningen to win (17/10 – BET VICTOR) – Click here to bet with BET VICTOR and receive up to £25 free bets for new customers.

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EUROPA LEAGUE: What can Groningen expect from Aberdeen?

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This Thursday, FC Groningen travel to Scotland to face Premiership side Aberdeen in the UEFA Europa League Second Qualifying Round First Leg. Total Dutch Football asked Aberdeen fan Chris Rumbles, to give us a rundown on what The Dons are all about.

BRIEF HISTORY

Despite a multitude of links to the Netherlands via former players and managers, this will be only the second time Aberdeen has faced Dutch opposition in Europe. The Dons previous Eredivisie encounter was a 2-2 aggregate loss to Feyenoord in the 1987/1988 UEFA Cup Second Round, a tie that came shortly before Aberdeen’s influx of players from the Netherlands that included the signings of Paul Mason and Theo ten Caat, both from FC Groningen. Since the club’s halcyon European days in the 80s (excluding the Feyenoord result of course), success at both domestic and European level has been a rarity. Derek McInnes’ first full season in charge as manager in 2013/2014 was a fruitful one that served as a reminder of the potential of the club. The Pittodrie side’s victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the League Cup Final in March put an end to the club’s twenty-year long trophy drought, and in an instant Derek McInnes’ side reinstated a sense of footballing pride in the North-East of Scotland. To borrow a phrase from the music world, Aberdeen is now preparing for that difficult second album.

THE TEAM

When the outgoing Craig Brown claimed he had left his successor Derek McInnes a ‘legacy’, many baulked at the notion. But one shouldn’t forget that club captain Russell Anderson, defensive partner Mark Reynolds, tricky winger Jonny Hayes, and Aberdeen’s talisman, Niall McGinn, were all Brown signings who were integral to last season’s achievements. Those four are part of a strong starting eleven that typically sets up in a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation that sees the three supporting the lone striker usually interchanging. The midfield can also be flattened to a five or a four with an attacking midfielder depending on the opposition.

Goalkeeper Jamie Langfield is now in his tenth season with the club and last season was potentially the 34-year-old’s best yet. Though capable of the calamitous as much as miraculous, Langfield has cut out many of the major errors that have punctuated his Pittodrie career, earning 15 league clean-sheets out of 38 fixtures last season to take his overall tally in Scotland’s top-flight to 102. Contributing to Langfield’s shutout record in recent times has been the dependable centre-half partnership of Russell Anderson and Mark Reynolds. Anderson’s vast experience coupled with Reynold’s pace and reading of the game, make up one of Scotland’s best defensive pairings. The permanent signing of Shaleum Logan this summer following a highly successful six month loan spell from Brentford will undoubtedly prove to be an astute one. The English right-back has given Aberdeen fans something they have been crying out for years: a genuine fullback. The left flank however remains one of Aberdeen’s real weaknesses. Centre-half Andy Considine and winger Jonny Hayes both filled in for the matches against FK Daugava Riga in the absence of the injured Clark Robertson. Even with Robertson fit again, his relative inexperience renders the left-back position a weakness which most fans believe is a transfer priority.

Last summer’s signings of Willo Flood and Barry Robson; have given the Dandies’ midfield a new lease of life. The addition of Flood in particular has been pivotal to the Dons injecting an energy and tenacity into midfield that had, until then, been lacking. Flood has been described by his manager as the ‘heartbeat’ of the Aberdeen team; testament to the diminutive Dubliner’s duty of disrupting the opposition’s rhythm and catalysing Aberdeen’s. Alongside Flood in central midfield is usually Ryan Jack, though Barry Robson can often partner his former Dundee United, Celtic, and Middlesbrough colleague depending on other personnel. Jack’s deep-lying midfield role is a quiet but often effective one, dictating play while giving others license to roam forward. Robson, meanwhile, provides a level of nous and vision from his favoured central position as well as from the right. His arrival at the club has seen the Dons become a real threat from set-pieces thanks to the 35-year-old’s pinpoint accuracy. From the bench, Nicky Low and Cammy Smith can also provide urgency and skill around midfield in equal measure, despite their inexperience.

Of the Dons forward contingent, Jonny Hayes is undoubtedly in the best form at the time of writing. Hayes set-up three and scored one across the two–legged affair with FK Daugava Riga. His injury in Riga will be a concern to an Aberdeen side already bereft of options on the left-side. Another potential absentee for the Groningen tie is Peter Pawlett. No stranger to the treatment table, Pawlett gave his footballing career a much-needed shot in the arm last season with a host of dazzling performances that culminated in his first Scotland call-up in May. Pawlett provides Aberdeen with pace and a focus on one thing: attacking. His seven goals last season were a significant improvement on his 1 other Aberdeen goal scored over the previous five seasons.

Two players who have found the net for Aberdeen on a more regular basis are Niall McGinn and Adam Rooney. Signed as an out-and-out striker, McGinn’s first two seasons at Aberdeen have seen the Northern Ireland international score 35 goals in 84 games. He is, in every sense, Aberdeen’s number ten. Full of creativity and skill, McGinn’s role has altered since his first season under Brown, but even in a wider role last season he still finished top scorer with 14 goals. That number is also the total number of goals McGinn’s fellow Irishman Adam Rooney has scored since joining the Dons in January from Oldham Athletic, including five of Aberdeen’s eight goals against FK Daugava Riga. His performance in the away leg last week typified what he offers Aberdeen: a penalty-box striker with real presence. Brought into challenge, or possibly complement Rooney, is recent signing David Goodwillie. The striker’s free transfer to Aberdeen comes after a barren three-year spell with Blackburn Rovers that promised so much after a multi-million pound move from Dundee United. Goodwillie’s chequered off-the-field past is perhaps reflected in the length of the contract, but the three-times capped Scotland player will be hoping his latent talent will emerge to prove any doubters wrong.

The post-match scenes that followed Aberdeen and FC Groningen’s last competitive matches of the past season could not have been further apart; the Dons were crestfallen as Motherwell beat them with the last kick of the game, forsaking second spot to their opponents on the day. FC Groningen, meanwhile, celebrated after they dismantled AZ 3-0 in the Europa League play-off, providing a return to European football following a seven year absence. Yet despite these contrasting fortunes, it might just be the Dons who enter the tie the more confident of the two with the extra qualifying round bolstering both their match sharpness and experience ahead of what is set to be a stern test for both teams. It is a tie Dons supporters will go into with realistic, rather than quixotic, hopes.

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EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW & BETTING TIPS: Benfica vs. AZ Alkmaar

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THURSDAY 10TH APRIL 2014

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE LAST EIGHT – SECOND LEG

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BENFICA vs. AZ ALKMAAR (20:05 BST)

Dick Advocaat takes his side to Lisbon on Thursday night to face a Benfica side that have not lost a European game at home in the last 11 attempts, and have won their last five games at home against Dutch opposition.

A third Europa League semi-final in four years is in touching distance for Jorge Jesus’ men as the Primeira Liga leaders go into their quarter-final second-leg with a 1-0 advantage.

All history aside for the Portuguese side, the Eredivisie club should not be underestimated as although they may not have reached the semi-finals of a European tournament since 2004-05, they currently hold an undefeated six game streak in European away matches.

Domestically, AZ have only one win from their last seven matches in all competitions, the visitors are on a poor run of form and drew 2-2 against by relegation contenders Roda JC on Sunday afternoon. Benfica on the other hand, are in fine form with just once defeat since last November.

Although, the hosts are without suspended duo Nicolas Gaitán and Maximiliano Pereira after the pair reached their booking limits last time out, they do welcome back midfielder Enzo Perez after he sat out the first leg for the same reason.

AZ are struggling to find the net as of late, scoring only six goals in the last eight games in all competitions, I can see Benfica winning and keeping a clean sheet. Bet Victor are offering 6/5 for Benfica to win to nil and this is our best bet in this match.

BEST BET: Benfica to win to nil (6/5 – Bet Victor)

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EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW & BETTING TIPS: AZ Alkmaar vs. Benfica

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Thursday 3rd April 2014

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AZ ALKMAAR vs. BENFICA (20:05 BST)

AZ Alkmaar face the huge task of getting past Portuguese giants Benfica, who have a great history against Dutch clubs in Europe.

The Portuguese champions have only experienced one defeat in the last ten games over teams from the Netherlands and it was a penalty-shootout loss to Guus Hiddink’s PSV in the European Cup of 1988/89. On the other hand, in the past AZ have a great record against clubs from Portugal, defeating Sporting Braga and Sporting Lisbon while holding Pacos de Ferreira to a draw.

Jorge Jesus’s Benfica defeated Tottenham Hotspur to progress, and will be arrive in Alkmaar confident of reaching the semis, after being victorious in 25 of their last 29 matches in all competitions. Domestically, Dick Advocaat’s men are in poor form with just one win from their last five games and European football may be out of reach next season unless they can win the Eredivisie Europa League play-offs. They currently sit in seventh in the Dutch top flight, although they would qualify for this tournament again, if they could pull of the unlikely achievement of winning it.

AZ are struggling to score goals and there was just the one goal over Alkmaar’s two legs against Anzhi in the last round, and that was a penalty kick. The Dutch side however, will certainly face a tougher test against the Portuguese league leaders are likely to have too much quality for their hosts, though Advocaat will ask his side to defend deep to ensure they have something to play for in the second leg.

Our best bet would seem to be Benfica to win but keep a clean sheet and Bet Victor are offering a massive 2/1 which is a price we cannot ignore.

BEST BET: Benfica to win to nil (2/1 – Bet Victor)

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