EUROPA LEAGUE: Our football tipster The Ultra previews Thursday’s games between BARCELONA v NAPOLI, DORTMUND v RANGERS and RB LEIPZIG v REAL SOCIEDAD all including a recommended BETDAQ bet and extended match stats.
BARCELONA V NAPOLI
5.45pm It’s been a fantastic week on BETDAQ Betting Exchange in the Champions League and we continue on Thursday night as we move to the Europa League Last 16 with some blockbuster fixtures. Barcelona won’t be happy to be in the Europa League, but you can’t help but be excited for this fixture as they host Napoli. Barcelona dropped yet more points at the weekend in La Liga with a 2-2 draw away to Espanyol – they didn’t play badly but they just keep conceding sloppy goals this season. It seems to me like they have improved a lot going forward from the start of the season, but they still have a lot of work to do at the back. I would worry about them in the second leg away from home, so in that sense this is a must win game I believe. I feel the markets are under rating Napoli coming into this tie. Napoli are having a fantastic season and are currently in the running for the Serie A title. After a 1-1 draw with Inter Milan at the weekend, they are just two points off AC Milan at the top of the table. They might come up short, but they are seven points ahead of Juventus for example and haven’t really put a foot wrong.
Napoli won’t be unhappy with a draw here. They have a fantastic record at home this season, sitting second in the Serie A table on home form only behind Inter Milan. They are actually ahead of Inter Milan in the away table, currently sitting in third there. I fully accept Barcelona have improved as the season has gone on, but I still feel they are too short here at 2.0. As I said above, they have given away far too many sloppy goals this season – I know it will take a lot of time for them to recover from all the changes this summer and that they have made progress, but in my opinion they haven’t made enough progress to start backing them at odds like 2.0 against a top class side like Napoli. You have to consider too that being in this competition is a disappointment for Barcelona, while Napoli will come here full of confidence knowing they have an excellent chance of knocking Barcelona out and actually going on to win the competition. It’s always hard to get a result at the Camp Nou but the 2.0 is worth laying from a value point of view here. I wouldn’t be surprise if Napoli went on to win, but I’m sure they would settle for a draw too – the 2.0 on Barcelona is just too short.
The Ultra Says:
Three points lay (liability) Barcelona to beat Napoli at 2.0 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.
You can view all markets here -> https://bit.ly/BDQBarNpl
● The only previous meeting between Barcelona and Napoli in major European competition saw Barcelona eliminate the Italians at the Last 16 stage of the UEFA Champions League in 2019-20. The first leg finished 1-1 in Naples before Barcelona won the second leg 3-1 at Camp Nou.
● Excluding qualifiers, the Supercup and the Club World Cup, each of Barcelona’s last 191 games in European competition have been in the UEFA Champions League, with this their first match in Europe’s secondary competition since 2003-04, when they were eliminated by Celtic in the Last 16 of the UEFA Cup. Barcelona manager Xavi started both legs.
● Barcelona have lost three of their last five home games in major European competition (W1 D1), as many defeats as they had suffered across their previous 74 such matches (W59 D12 – excluding qualifiers). They lost their last home match in the knockout stages of such competitions in February 2021 against Paris Saint-Germain, and could lose back-to-back home knockout games at this level for the first time since 2002 and 2003 against Real Madrid and Juventus.
● Napoli have lost each of their last four away games in the knockout stages of major European competitions, with one of those defeats coming against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League in 2019-20.
● Napoli’s Victor Osimhen has scored four goals in just 168 minutes of play time in the UEFA Europa League this season, scoring in each of his last three games in the competition despite not starting two of them. He is averaging a goal every 42 minutes, the best rate of any player to have scored at least two goals in the competition this season.
DORTMUND V RANGERS
5.45pm Next we have a very interesting fixture as Dortmund host Rangers. I think it’s fair to say that Rangers are very likely to get outclassed here, but Dortmund tend to play a very open game and they can concede plenty of goals too. Rangers have been involved in some high scoring thrillers in this competition and they will be hoping that they come out on top in another one here! Those games came when Steven Gerrard was in charge however, and the Rangers form has taken a dip since he left. They have dropped some points in Scotland, and after losing the Old Firm Derby 3-0 to Celtic they are now one point behind them in the table. With the standard so low in Scotland, it’s hard to say where Celtic will drop points – it might happen but it’s basically going to go down to the next Old Firm Derby which is pencilled in for the second last fixture of the season. That’s going to be a cracker, but so is this. Dortmund bounced back to winning ways at the weekend with a smooth 3-0 win over Union Berlin. They needed that win after conceding five goals to Bayer Leverkusen here the weekend before that. Every time they seemingly get close to getting into a title battle with Bayern Munich they lose a game! The market is expecting a reasonably comfortable home win with Dortmund trading 1.45 at the time of writing.
Rangers did very well to get to this stage after losing their opening two games. That 1-0 loss to Sparta Prague in their second fixture was a real setback, but they did pick up a 1-1 draw with Lyon in their last Group game which was a decent result. When you look at their xG figures in this competition though I can only see an easy Dortmund win. Rangers just haven’t been creating enough chances to stop Dortmund here – they haven’t controlled their fixtures and although they will likely set up to frustrate Dortmund here I can’t see that being successful. Rangers had a pretty weak Group to begin with, but they only created xG figures of 0.35, 1.26 and 0.40 away from home. Dortmund are tempting at 1.45 but I feel they can do better than that and cover the handicap. The 1.5 goal handicap looks fantastic value at 2.11 and I’m very happy to have a Max Bet at those odds. Any Other Home Win is also of interest at around 5.5 in the Correct Score market.
The Ultra Says:
Five points win Dortmund -1.5 goals to beat Rangers at 2.11 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.
You can view all markets here -> https://bit.ly/BDQDorRan
● Borussia Dortmund and Rangers will face-off in European competition for the first time since the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup Last 32, when Dortmund progressed via penalties after the clubs drew 2-2 on aggregate. Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst played in both legs, as did Claudio Reyna, whose son Giovanni currently plays for Dortmund and is named after the Rangers coach.
● Rangers have lost seven of their last eight away games against German opponents in European competition (D1) since beating Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the UEFA Cup in October 1998, failing to score in six of those eight matches.
● Borussia Dortmund have won five of their 10 matches in the knockout rounds of the UEFA Europa League (D3 L2), while they have won the first leg of such ties three times from five attempts (D1 L1).
● Rangers have progressed from 10 of their last 14 two-legged ties in the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup/Europa League. In those 14 ties they have lost the first leg only three times (W3 D8), yet still progressed twice from those three instances.
● Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland has scored 23 goals in 20 appearances in major European competition (excluding qualifying), including 14 goals in 10 home matches. He has only appeared in one UEFA Europa League match to date – a four-minute cameo for Red Bull Salzburg against Napoli in March 2019.
RB LEIPZIG V REAL SOCIEDAD
8pm We have four more games kicking off at 8pm, but RB Leipzig v Real Sociedad is the standout fixture. This should be a cracker to be honest, both sides have very similar profiles but you’d have to say this is a good time for RB Leipzig to come into this fixture. We have been through all the moaning about RB Leipzig selling their top assets to Bayern Munich just when they challenged for the title last season, but they were very badly effected and sat in mid-table for a lot of the Bundesliga season. They have improved as the season has gone on though, and just this weekend they broke back into the top four. They did find themselves a good bit off, and they got a bit of help from the sides above them but they are playing some very good football at the moment and they are full of confidence. Real Sociedad have had the opposition season, just like last season they started very fast and have fallen away as the weeks have gone on. It would still be a decent achievement if they made it to this competition again next season in La Liga terms though, but when I look at their recent performances I just see them struggling here.
They got back to winning ways at the weekend with a 2-0 win at home to Granada prior to two very losing 0-0 draws but that’s just two wins in their last ten games. They have performed very averagely for a large part of that run, you’ll see xG figures like 0.73 and 0.39 in there and they have only created an xG of over 2.0 twice – they won both games though! Compare that to RB Leipzig who have been on a very good run, only losing to Bayern Munich and you can forgive them that. They have been putting the average sides to the sword and banging in goals for fun. With home advantage I can only see one result here and Leipzig look good value at 1.91 too. It’s clear Sociedad are struggling a little, and although they played well at the weekend you have to remember Granada are in a relegation battle and have lost plenty of games in a row now. This is another level compared to that, and I can see Sociedad coming up short again. Leipzig are a confident bet.
The Ultra Says:
Three points win RB Leipzig to beat Real Sociedad at 1.91 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.
You can view all markets here -> https://bit.ly/BDQRblSoc
● This will be the first ever competitive meeting between RB Leipzig and Real Sociedad. RB Leipzig’s only previous such game against Spanish opponents saw them eliminate Atlético de Madrid from a single-game quarter final tie in the UEFA Champions League in 2019-20. Real Sociedad last faced German opposition in 2013-14, when they lost home and away to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the group stages of this competition.
● RB Leipzig have won the first leg of each of their previous three UEFA Europa League ties, beating Napoli, Zenit and Marseille in 2017-18. The Germans did lose the first leg of their last knockout tie in major European competition – against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League Last 16 in 2020-21.
● Real Sociedad have been eliminated from each of their last four knockout stage ties in major European competition, most recently against Manchester United at the Last 32 stage of this competition last season.
● RB Leipzig have lost four of their last seven matches in the UEFA Europa League (W2 D1), failing to win any of their last three (D1 L2) in this competition.
● RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku scored seven goals in the UEFA Champions League group stages this season – the most goals a French player has ever scored in a single group stage in the competition.