Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
The Group Stage of the 2019/20 Europa League is in sight for the 42 clubs competing in the first leg of the final round of pre-qualifiers this week.
Every club contesting the UEL Play-Off double-headers will be desperate to secure regular continental football for the season, however, half of the teams involved will have their dreams dashed by the end of August.
A quartet of teams from the UK, Wolves, Rangers, Celtic and Linfield, will be aiming to secure positive first leg results in their respective Play-off ties this week, though the chances of all four representatives making it to the Group Stage feel slim.
To help you get in the mood for what promises to be a cracking night of action across Europe on Thursday, we’ve compiled a UK team Europa League betting special – check it out below.
Remember – we’ll have all our betting tips for Thursday’s action on our Europa League predictions page.
Legia Warsaw vs Rangers
Rangers make the 1,500km trip to the Polish capital this week to take on the country’s Ekstraklasa 2018/19 runners up Legia Warsaw at the Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego Municiple Stadium.
While tension is expected to be high in Poland for the game, the fixture’s final goal tally promises to much more modest, and our UEL analysts are tipping Thursday’s game between Legia Warsaw and Rangers to be an attritional battle for inches in our match preview.
Legia have been worryingly short on goals since late July, hitting the net more than once in only 2 of their last 8 attempts across multiple competitions.
3 of the Wojskowi’s most recent 5 matches finished 0-0, and Legia plundered just 3 goals in their last 5 games on their own patch overall.
Rangers, who are unbeaten in 9 competitive matches this season, will back themselves to capitalise on their host’s lack of cutting edge this week, and our experts have backed them to take a valuable first leg draw in Poland.
Celtic vs AIK
After Celtic’s bitterly disappointing Champions League 3rd Qualifying Round defeat to Romanian outfit CFR Cluj earlier this month, progressing to the UEL Group Stage would be a welcome consolation prize, though Swedish champions AIK won’t be in the giving mood this week.
The Swedes exited the Champions League a round earlier than their Scottish hosts, though Celtic fans won’t be expecting an easy ride in Glasgow on Thursday.
Celtic have looked defensively suspect in the early throes of the season, keeping a clean sheet in only 4 of their 9 competitive matches, and conceding in each of their last 4 games (8 goals).
Their opponents, AIK, have fine-tuned their ability to get on the scoresheet on the road in recent months, registering in 100% of their last 9 away games overall, though they kept their antagonists out at the other end in only 3 of those fixtures.
With both teams looking a little porous at the back, our experts have tipped both teams to score at Celtic Park this week in our detailed match preview.
Linfield vs Qarabag
Northern Irish champions Linfield will make history this week when they compete in the Europa League Playoff rounds for the first time ever.
The semi-professional Blues have traditionally fallen short in their pursuit of European football in the earlier rounds of the competition’s qualifiers, but now the minnow are potentially two games away from grabbing a place in the lucrative Group Stage of the UEL.
Standing in their way is the much more experienced Azerbaijani side Qarabağ FK, a club that has competed at the Group Stage of either the Champions or Europa League in each of the last 5 seasons.
Qarabağ FK were beaten in 9 of their last 11 Europa League away games however, and our analysts detail in our match preview betting tips how The Horsemen’s notorious travel sickness could open the door for Linfield to secure a surprise, positive first leg result in Belfast.
Torino vs Wolves
English Premier League side Wolves were undoubtedly handed the most difficult task out of the four UK based clubs chasing Europa League Group qualification.
To book their place in the competition proper, Wanderers will have to beat a battle-hardened Torino side over two legs, the first of which takes place in Italy on Thursday.
Having picked a full-strength team to play Manchester United on Monday, Wolves’ manager Nuno Espirito Santo is almost certain to shuffle his pack for his week’s trip to Italy, and Torino will be waiting to pounce on any disjointedness in Wanderers’ play.
Even with a full first choice XI, Wolves would likely find the going tough against a tough Torino outfit however. Il Toro have lost only 2 of their last 22 competitive matches – a run that included wins against Inter, Milan, Atalanta and Lazio, as well as draws at Napoli and Juventus.
Torino also found the net at least once in 17 of their 18 last matches, though only 6 clean sheets during that period suggests that there might be holes to exploit in their rearguard.
Our experts are certainly think along those lines, and they’ve tipped both teams to score in Torino’s meeting with Wolves on Thursday in our match preview for the game.
We publish new both teams to score betting tips to choose from every day on our dedicated BTTS page. Make sure to check it out!
A 4-fold accumulator featuring our selections above is available at 29/1 with bet365! Click the banner below to bet now!
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