All Four Europa League Quarter-Finals First Legs Odds, Predictions
RB Leipzig vs Marseille
RB Leipzig's historic first season in Europe will continue after the German side saw off both Napoli and Zenit Saint Petersburg in the knockout round. While they will rue missing out on the second round of the Champions League, their progress is promising and will also give them an alternative in their pursuit of a place in next season's elite European club competition, which may be crucial considering how tight the Bundesliga is from 2nd down to 7th.
And while the Germans have shown a defensive, tentative start to their life in Europe, we may see a change of tactic against a Marseille team that is short at the back although strong in the final third.
It really could be a great matchup for the neutrals: RB Leipig boasts the likes of Emil Forsberg, Timo Werner, Naby Keita and Jean-Kevin Augustin, while Marseille will start Dimitri Payet, Lucas Ocampos and potentially Florian Thauvin, who has been directly involved in 27 goals in the league this season (29 starts).
Marseille were too good for Braga in the Round of 32, and their clinical disposal of Athletic Bilbao in the last round was a far cry from the group stage, in which the French team scored just 4 goals. This really will be one of the ties of the round, and although the pair have never met, the German-French rivalry is always good to watch.
Both sides come into this match knowing that they will need to keep one eye on their league fixtures to ensure they stay in touch with Champions League positions. It will be very interesting to see how each manager rotates their squad.
Leipzig start this tie at home and are the favourites to win the opening match, priced at -144. The draw is on offer for +283, while you will see Marseille at +371.
We're liking Leipzig at home here, especially as Marseille defender Adil Rami and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda will not be in attendance.Go for RB Leipzig (-144)
Arsenal vs CSKA Moscow
Arsenal are now almost certain to miss out on Champions League football via the English Premier League, after a disappointing season domestically. They have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Manchester United and qualify via this competition, and canalso look to their English rivals for tips on how to defeat their Russian opponents.
United defeated CSKA Moscow in both their Champions League encounters in late 2017, and Arsenal will start as favourites to do likewise in this tie. Yet these sides have met before, and the Gunners fell short on both occasions, drawing 0-0 at home and losing 0-1 away to the Moscow side in the 2006-07 Champions League group stage.
Overall, the Russians were unlucky to be eliminated from the Champions League group stage. their record of 3 wins was equal to or better than 6 other teams in the tournament but not enough to secure their progress. Overall, CSKA have a record of 5 wins, 4 defeats and 1 draw in Europe so far in this campaign, and they are likely to make it difficult for Arsene Wenger's men.
Yet Arsenal have been in great form in the second-tier continental competition. They are the top-scoring team in the Europa League, averaging 2.3 goals per match, and star Mesut Özil averages an assist every 114 minutes in the competition - the best record by any player in the history of the Europa League.
Arsenal start at home and are the clear favourites to travel to Russia with a win in the bag. They are available at -347, while the draw can be obtained at +448. +900 is available for outsiders CSKA.
Considering that Arsenal rested players in their last league encounter, it seems as though the focus of Wenger has shifted to the Europa League. While beleaguered, we still have plenty of confidence in his managerial ability and think that they still have enough talent to cruise into the semi-finals here. They will win this leg comfortably.Go for Arsenal (-347)
Atletico Madrid vsSporting Lisbon
The last time these two sides met was way back in the 2009/10 season, and it was Sergio Agüero who sealed Atletico's progress to the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a brace in the second-leg. Atletico went on to win the competition that year, and remain one of the favourites to win this year's event as well, given the quality of their side.
While their move to the Wanda Metropolitano was not helpful in their Champions League campaign, the Spaniards have not looked back since their relegation to the Europa League, performing well both domestically and abroad since their exit. Antoinne Griezmann is one of the main reasons - he is up there with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the La Liga goal-scoring standings and has been more than useful on Thursday nights in Europe.
Sporting were also participants in this season's Champions League, although itwas never going to be easy for the Portuguese club in a group that contained Barcelona and last year's finalists Juventus. In truth, Sporting did well to earn 7 points. They haven't been tested as yet in the Europa League, coming up against Kazakhstan side Astana and Czech side Viktoria Plzen in the knockout round.
But this matchup will test Lisbon, and we're not sure they have the quality to match Atletico. Sebastián Coates has performed well in defence since his return to football, although he will have to be next level good to stop Griezmann. Similarly, William Carvalho will need to play inspired football to nullify the effect of young Spanish star Saúl Niguez.
Atletico are missing José Giménez and Filipe Luis through injury, which willtest their defensive depth, althoughSporting are missing a couple of key attacking personnel in Seydou Doumbia, Daniel Podence and Bruno César.
There's no surprise when looking at the markets. Atletico enter as -371 favourites and really should dominate this first leg - they will need to in order to ensure they survive the return leg in Lisbon. The draw in this match is priced at +429, while you will get serious outsider prices for Sporting, who are up around +1100.Go for Atletico Madrid (-371)
Lazio vs Red Bull Salzburg
Lazio and Salzburg also last met in the 2009/10 Europa League; both contests were won by the Austrian Champions by a score of 2 goals to 1. In the home match for Lazio on that occasion, the Italians took the lead before goals in the 82nd and 93rd minutes saw Red Bull record a great come-from-behind victory.
Red Bull Salzburg are a team in form - they have not lost any of their last 19 European matches (11 wins, 8 draws), and have managed to knock out Real Sociedad and Borussia Dortmund to make it this far. Domestically they have been on fire too, streaking ahead in the Austrian Bundesliga with just one loss in 28 matches.
Lazio are certainly firing at the front - the Italians have scored the most goals in Serie A, mostly thanks to Ciro Immobile who has scored 26 from 27 matches. The striker has also managed 6 from 7 matches in the Europa League so far, and will be one to watch if you're looking at the player markets in this match. Lazio are coming off a 6-2 thumping of Benevento in the league, in which Immobile scored another double.
Lazio enter the first match in this tie as the favourite, although they struggled in their last home fixture in the competition. In the Round of 16 against Dynamo Kyiv, the Italians could only manage a 2-2 draw, before getting the job done in the away leg. They aren't likely to be as lucky against an in-form Salzburg side, and will need to perform much better if they want to progress.
Considering how tight the Serie A race is at the moment, we can actually see the home side struggling in this fixture despite having few notable injuries. The pressure ofbalancing their Europa League campaign with the pursuit of Champions League places is a genuine concern for Simone Inzaghi.
Lazio are available at -139, while the draw is priced at +281 and Red Bull are the outsiders at +366. We are going to stray away from our trend of picking the home teams and suggest the draw in this matchup.Go for the Draw (+281)
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