Thursday Football Tips: Rangers to lead and Hamburg to stay compact

Hamburg v Karlsruhe
Thursday, 19:30
Live on ESPN

Match Odds: Hamburg [2.06], Karlsruhe [4.1], The Draw [3.55]

The Bundesliga’s unrelegatables Hamburg earned themselves a second shot at survival with a fairly straightforward 2-0 triumph over Schalke last weekend, so must now get the better of second-tier third-placed club Karlsruhe over two legs to extend their as yet unbroken Bundesliga stay.

They clung on via this method on away goals last year against Greuther Furth owing to some quality shot-stopping from Jaroslav Drobny and finished this season stronger than their intended displacers.

Hamburg collected ten points from their final five games under fourth coach of the campaign Bruno Labbadia to spring from bottom to 16th, whereas Karlsruhe botched automatic promotion with two losses in the same period, the most fatal coming at home to Darmstadt, who beat them to second.

While those statistics perhaps point to a bet on the top-flight representatives, this writer prefers the option of backing under 2.5 goals at [1.75]. In three of the previous five years – including last year when the Dinosaur competed – both legs served up two goals or fewer.

Under 2.5 goals has paid out in 11 of Hamburg’s last 14 league fixtures at the Imtech Arena, as well as Karlsruhe’s most recent three league encounters.

Recommended Bet: Back under 2.5 goals @ [1.75]

Rangers v Motherwell
Thursday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 1

Match Odds: Rangers [1.96], Motherwell [4.4], The Draw [3.7]

Stuart McCall’s reward for steering Rangers into the play-off final is what he labelled a “nightmare” scenario: the only way that he can restore the Gers to the Premiership is to relegate former side Motherwell, who he guided to third, second and second before walking after a poor start this term.

The first edition of this promotion-relegation everything-on-the-line double header last year saw the team aiming upwards (Hamilton) take down the ones clinging on (Hibernian) and McCall’s men are tentative favourites to complete another league swap.

Contrary to what you might expect, Motherwell are in comparable form to Rangers despite playing at a higher level, with both winning three of their last eight.

Crucially though, the Steelman have lost three in a row on their travels – and 13 in 15 dating back to November – tilting the first leg at least in the 54-time champions’ favour. They have won four and drawn two of their past six as hosts, with one of the draws a win or sorts having been achieved in a clash whereby they already held an aggregate lead, so had no necessity to pursue victory.

Recommended Bet: Back Rangers to win @ [1.96]