With the Europa League group stage set to get underway on Thursday night, the likes of Liverpool, West Ham and Brighton will all be looking to lay down an early marker.
Ahead of a stacked Europa League schedule throughout Thursday, we have found a couple of tips that are worth keeping an eye out for.
17:45 Bayer Leverkusen vs Hacken
Gaining a string of praise from across Germany’s elite last season as they stormed their way to a top-six finish, Bayer Leverkusen have once again impressed since opening up the 2023/24 campaign. Marking their return from September’s international break with another action-packed performance, Xabi Alonso’s side will be excited to make a return to the BayArena here.
Eventually snatching a stunning last 2-2 stalemate away at Bayern Munich over the weekend, the one-time Liverpool midfielder certainly has a budding reputation as one of Europe’s standout coaches.
Opening the new campaign with an eye-catching 3-2 victory at home against German giants RB Leipzig on August 19th, Thursday’s hosts have collected 10 points from their first four domestic contests and currently find themselves sat at the top of the Bundesliga table.
With the mood in Alonso’s camp at a red-hot high, Leverkusen have also gained a reputation for their clinical displays in the final third.
Including a 5-1 romp at home against Darmstadt earlier in the month, it should be noted that Die Werkself have notched 13 strikes in their opening four Bundesliga showdowns.
On the flip side, although Hacken might have punched a famous Europa League group stage ticket last month following a 5-3 aggregate victory against Scottish outfit Aberdeen, Thursday’s guests know that they are tipped as a landslide Group H contender this season.
Although the Wasps might have enjoyed a stellar purple patch when opening August, Per-Mathias Hogmo has seen his side struggle with their consistency of late.
Winning just a pair of their last five matchups across all competitions, Hacken have also shown some recent issues on the road.
Including an action-packed 4-2 loss away at IFK Goteborg last month, the Swedish champions have won just a pair of their previous six showdowns outside of Gothenburg.
Betting Tip: Bayer Leverkusen to score in both halves @ 6/4 with Pribet
20:00 Brighton vs AEK
Making real history last season as they punched a maiden top-six finish, it is no secret that Brighton are riding an extended wave of momentum. Only continuing to gain a string of plaudits since opening up the 2023/24 campaign, Thursday’s hosts will be excited to open their Europa League adventure at the Amex in midweek.
Putting in another rampant display over the weekend as they marked their return from September’s international break with a stellar 3-1 win away at Manchester United, Roberto De Zerbi’s side have gained a string of plaudits.
Likewise, heading into the fortnight interval with another 3-1 win at home against Champions League outfit Newcastle, the Seagulls have won four of their opening five Premier League appearances this season.
Really gaining a reputation for their free-scoring performances in the final third, Brighton could be calling on summer arrival Joao Pedro to spearhead their charge on the south coast.
Along with finding the net away at Old Trafford over the weekend, the former Watford star has already bagged a pair of Premier League strikes since arriving at the Amex.
On the flip side, while AEK might have got their hands on a first domestic crown since 2018 last season, the Greek giants have struggled to find a similar level since opening up the new campaign.
Suffering Champions League qualifying heartbreak at the hands of Antwerp last month as they eventually slumped to a 3-1 aggregate defeat, Thursday’s guests are in the midst of a real blip.
Managing to muster just a single victory from any of their last six appearances across all competitions, AEK will know that they face another stern examination when they arrive at the Amex in midweek.
Betting Tip: Joao Pedro to score anytime @ 13/10 with Luckster
Thursday’s Europa League Double
- Bayer Leverkusen vs Hacken – Bayer Leverkusen to score in both halves @ 6/4
- Brighton vs AEK – Joao Pedro to score anytime @ 13/10
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