Europa League Betting: Fiorentina to progress against stuttering Roma

After netting 5/8 winners from last week’s Europa League action, Kevin Hatchard’s back with his best bets.

Roma v Fiorentina
Thursday March 19, 18:00
Live on BT Sport 1

Roma’s form appears to have deserted them at the worst possible time. Monday’s 2-0 home defeat to Sampdoria in Serie A has left the Giallorossi trailing leaders Juventus by 14 points in what can now barely be described as a title race. Rudi Garcia’s men have won just three of their last 15 games in all competitions, and they haven’t won inside 90 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico since November.

I must admit I have consistently underestimated Fiorentina, and now might well be the time for me to see the light. In their Coppa Italia run, La Viola have secured away wins at Roma and Juventus, and confidence will have been further boosted by Monday’s 2-1 comeback victory against Milan in Serie A, a game that saw the men from Florence score twice in the last seven minutes.

I have doubted Fiorentina in the past based on their home form, but on the road they have built up an impressive body of work. Vincenzo Montella has guided his team to nine wins in their last 15 away games in all competitions. Having won 2-0 in the Eternal City against Roma as recently as March, another trip to the Olimpico will hold no fears for Fiorentina.

Roma know a goalless draw will see them through, but they have managed just two clean sheets in their last 15 outings, and Fiorentina have drawn a blank just twice in their last 20 games. I think Fiorentina will grab at least one away goal, and with Roma’s confidence brittle, the visitors look overpriced to qualify at 2.962/1.

Recommended Bet
Back Fiorentina to qualify at 2.962/1

Sevilla v Villarreal
Thursday March 19, 20:05
Live on BT Sport 1

Sevilla’s extraordinary run in the Europa League continued last week, as they visited a Villarreal side with an incredibly strong home record, and walked away from El Madrigal with a 3-1 first-leg lead. Los Rojiblancos literally couldn’t have made a better start to the tie, as Vitolo scored the fastest goal in the tournament’s history after just 13 seconds.

Having done the hard work, I now expect the holders to finish the job and reach the quarter-finals. Unai Emery has proved himself to be an incredibly astute coach, and I think he can nullify Villarreal’s attempts to get back into the tie.

Sevilla leak very few goals at the Sanchez Pizjuan – in La Liga they have shipped just seven goals in 14 games, and in all competitions they have racked up 13 clean sheets.

Villarreal have to go for it at some stage, but they have no margin for error. They recently drew 1-1 at Real Madrid, and they have won 1-0 at Atletico Madrid this season, so they’ve proved they can get results on the road away to elite teams. However, when they last visited Sevilla, they conceded two late goals in a 2-1 defeat.

Sevilla won the Europa League last season, and they have the knack of closing ties out. I’m a bit surprised to see Under 2.5 Goals trading at 2.47/5, because I think Sevilla will just try to shut this down, and their excellent defensive record at home suggests they can do just that.

Recommended Bet
Back Under 2.5 Goals at 2.47/5

Besiktas v Club Brugge
Thursday March 19, 20:05

Last week’s first leg in Bruges was a strange affair. Besiktas looked to be in control of the match when they took the lead through Gokhan Tore’s excellent effort, but they allowed the hosts to claw their way back. Roared on by a raucous home crowd, Club Brugge equalised through Tom De Sutter’s neat deflection, and then won it 2-1 with a late penalty.

Although Slaven Bilic’s men uncharacteristically wobbled last week, I think they will get it right on home soil. I was surprised just how fierce and oppressive the atmosphere was at the Ataturk Stadium against Liverpool in the last 32, as Besiktas wore the Merseyside giants down with relentless pressure.

A 1-0 win and a penalty shootout saw Besiktas through against Liverpool, and this time a 1-0 victory would be enough to take them through to the quarter-finals. Besiktas have also beaten Spurs at the Ataturk this term, and in all competitions they have won five of their last six home games.

Before last week’s first leg, I wrote in this column that I thought Besiktas were the better, more organised side. The first leg hasn’t changed my opinion, and Bilic will have his warriors pumped up for this, so I think the Turkish club will edge a close tie.

Recommended Bet
Back Besiktas to qualify at 2.0621/20

Torino v Zenit St Petersburg
Thursday March 19, 20:05

Zenit boss Andre Villas Boas has already won this tournament with Porto, he always took it seriously when he was the manager of Spurs, and he has his sights firmly set on it this season with the Russian league leaders. Zenit dropped out of the Champions League, and have since beaten PSV home and away, and fashioned a 2-0 first-leg advantage against Torino.

An early red card for midfielder Marco Benassi killed off Torino’s hopes of picking up a decent result in Russia, and they now face an uphill struggle to turn the tie around. Giampiero Ventura’s men have only won five of their 14 home games in Serie A, and in the Europa League they were held to draws at home by Club Brugge and Athletic Bilbao. In the Maroons’ most recent match at the Stadio Olimpico, they went down 2-0 at home to Lazio.

Torino must score at least twice to have any chance of reaching the quarter-finals, and Zenit are yet to concede a goal since dropping into the Europa League. AVB will task his side with keeping possession and drawing the sting out of Torino, and gaps will open up for counter-attacks as the game progresses. Zenit could well qualify in style, but just in case they play out a dull draw, let’s use the Draw No Bet market for some insurance.

Recommended Bet
Back Zenit Draw No Bet at 1.84/5

2014/15 Europa League P/L (1pt per bet)

Points Staked: 71
Points Returned: 75.78
P/L: +4.78 points