Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
With the first knockout round over, the Europa League group winners finally return to the competition this week. The field has been narrowed down to 15 teams who are aiming to lift the trophy in Seville, including Europa League kings Sevilla.
There’s an early start for the Europa League this week, as Wednesday sees the start of the seven last 16 ties, as teams look to join RB Leipzig in the next round. Ahead of those first leg clashes, we’ve taken a look at each tie and we’ve picked out an 29/1 to qualify accumulator tip.
29/1 Europa League to qualify acca
Porto vs Lyon
Porto have won three and drawn the other in their four previous meetings with Lyon. The Portuguese side have won five of their last seven at home heading into this clash, while they’ve won the first leg of five of their last seven Europa League knockout stage clashes when playing at home.
While Lyon have been promising in Europe this term, this is by far their biggest test of the campaign. The visitors have looked average in Ligue 1 and I back them to fall short against a Porto side who have claimed big wins over Sporting and Lazio of late.
Tip: Porto to qualify
Real Betis vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Real Betis are winless in four matches, including two defeats in their last three. I’m backing them to struggle against an Eintracht Frankfurt side who went unbeaten in the group stage in this competition.
The German side picked up two away wins in the group stage and that should set them up well going into the first leg in Spain. Betis have failed to win any of their last five home knockout matches in the UEFA Cup/Europa League (D2 L3), while Frankfurt have progressed from five of seven ties in the last 16 of this competition.
Tip: Frankfurt to qualify
Sevilla vs West Ham
West Ham are slight favourites in this tie, despite facing a Sevilla side who seem to spend more time than not as holders of the competition.
Sevilla have progressed from 29 of their last 31 knockout stage ties in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, which is an incredible 94% success rate. The Spaniards are second in La Liga while the Hammers are going through a slump, so look at Sevilla as the best priced side to qualify.
Tip: Sevilla to qualify
Rangers vs Red Star
After defeating Borussia Dortmund in the last round, it’s hard to bet against Rangers this time around. They host a Red Star side who have only won one of their previous six matches away to Scottish opponents in Europe.
Red Star haven’t made it past this point in any European competition since 1979, while Rangers are continuing their impressive progress in Europe which began when Steven Gerrard arrived. Back them to take another step forward in this tie.
Tip: Rangers to qualify
Braga vs Monaco
Monaco went unbeaten in the group stage of this competition, so they should be in good stead as they head to Portugal. While Braga have put together a good run in Europe, they needed penalties to see off Sheriff in the last round.
Monaco have lost just twice in their last 14 games and they should prove too strong for Braga to match. The hosts have won just once in their last three games in this competition and their poor away record doesn’t bode well for their second-leg trip.
Tip: Monaco to qualify
Atalanta vs Bayer Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen have won only one of their last 10 away matches against Italian sides in Europe (D3 L6), so back against them in this tie. Atalanta have quickly become a side to fear in Europe, especially with an unbeaten return of six wins and four draws at home in this competition.
Bayer won only once away from home in this competition in 2021, losing at both Ferencvaros and Young Boys. Back Atalanta to add to their struggles by progressing from this tie.
Tip: Atalanta to qualify
Barcelona vs Galatasaray
Xavi has led Barcelona to four straight wins ahead of the first leg in this clash and they are worthy favourites to put Galatasaray out.
The Turkish side have won only once across eight previous meetings with Barca in Europe, losing five of those clashes. Given that the Catalans can call upon one of this competition’s greatest scorers – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 23 goals in 45 appearances – back Barca to prove too strong.
Tip: Barcelona to qualify
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