Sports Journalist at FST, Gareth qualified as a journalist after graduating from university and spent over a decade as a freelance broadcast journalist, commentator and tipster before joining FST. Now living in Manchester, he is a long suffering Bolton Wanderers fan who also enjoys boxing, the NBA, tennis and rugby league.
The first legs of the Europa League play-off round take place this week and Scottish duo Rangers and Celtic are both looking for places in the group stages.
The winners of each tie will advance to the tournament proper, while the losers will enter the new Europa Conference League group stages.
We’ve got predictions for each game on Thursday and have picked out a 5/1 treble, while you can view all of our predictions here.
5/1 Europa League Treble Tip
NS Mura vs Sturm Graz
Sturm Graz to win at 3/4 – ⭐⭐⭐
Sturm Graz opened the new season with a home defeat to Austrian champions RB Salzburg but have won three games on the spin since. Mura picked up a 1-0 win at Zalgiris in their last fixture to secure progress so this stage, but that ended a seven game winless run (D4, L3) and Sturm Graz should have the quality to pick up a win in Slovenia as they seek a group stage spot.
Fenerbahce vs HJX
Fenerbahce -1 handicap at 21/20 – ⭐⭐⭐
Fenerbahce won their season opener at Adana Demirspor over the weekend and have four wins in their last five competitive home games, with one defeat. The Istanbul outfit also came through pre-season with an unbeaten home record (W3, D2).
This is HJK’s four European qualifier of the summer after dropping out of Champions League qualifying. The Helsinki club did win at Montenegro’s Budnocost earlier in the summer but are without a win in two European away days since, losing one and drawing on.
Fener have beaten a -1 handicap in two of their last four competitive home games and we feel they can beat HJK with room to spare.
Rapid Vienna vs Zorya
Rapid Vienna to win at 3/4 – ⭐⭐⭐
Rapid Vienna have four wins in five home games so far this term, losing the other, and three of those successes have been accompanied by clean sheets. Zorya have lost two of their four games so far this season.
Other Europa League Tips
Omnia vs Antwerp
Antwerp to win at 13/8 – ⭐⭐
Antwerp kicked off the new Belgian season with two defeats but have picked up since, and they claimed an impressive 5-1 win at Standard Liege in their last away game.
Omonia lost out 1-0 at home to Dinamo Zagreb in Champions League qualifying earlier this summer but were arguably lucky to only lose by a one-goal margin as they managed just two shots on target, while Dinamo forced seven, before edging Flora out 1-0.
Antwerp are a step up in class and we feel they can claim the win here.
Randers vs Galatasaray
Both Teams to Score at 4/5 – ⭐⭐
This will be Randers’ first European outing of the season, but they have made a strong start to their domestic season in Denmark and are unbeaten after five games (W41, D1).
Both teams to score stands out in this fixture as there have been goals at both ends in all four of Gala’s European games so far, while both teams have scored in three of Randers’ fixtures.
Slavia Prague vs Legia Warsaw
Slavia Prague to win at 1/2 – ⭐⭐
We’re expecting Slavia to win this first leg, given their impressive record at their Sinobo Stadium home. The Prague club won 15 of their 17 home games in the Czech top flight last term, drawing the other two, and have won their only home game so far this season – a 1-0 success against Ferencvaros.
Polish champions Legia are generally good travellers, they won 10 of their 15 away games in the league last season, but have just one win in their last three on the road and we feel home advantage should see Slavia over the line in this one.
Olympiacos vs Slovan Bratislava
Olympiacos to win and BTTS at 11/4 – ⭐⭐
Slovan were also involved in Champions League qualifying earlier in the summer, and they fell just short against a quality Young Boys outfit in their last European outing as they went down 3-2 on aggregate.
The Bratislavan side lost the away legs in both of their Champions League qualifiers but did score in both games so we’re backing Olympiacos, who have seven wins in their last eight home games, to win with both teams to score.
Rangers vs Alashkert
Rangers/Rangers Half-Time/Full-Time at 8/13 – ⭐⭐
This match should be an easy one for Rangers, especially at Ibrox, and they will be looking to start the game quickly. For that reason, we’re backing the home side to be winning on the half time/full time market as they attempted to put in a dominant display.
Rapid Vienna vs Zorya
Rapid Vienna to win at 3/4 – ⭐⭐
Rapid Vienna’s home form has generally been good and they have won both of their home games in Europe so far this season, and we feel they can edge out Zorya in this first leg. The Vienna club have four wins in five home games so far this term, losing the other, and three of those successes have been accompanied by clean sheets so a 1-0 home win is our pick in the correct score market.
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