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Prague could be a problem for Chelsea

Prague could be a problem for Chelsea

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Chelsea are the 7/4 favourites to win the Europa League outright after being drawn against Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals, but the Blues may not have it all their own way in the first leg in the Czech Republic on Thursday.

Napoli are next in the betting at 15/4 and they come up against 9/2 hopefuls Arsenal in a real heavyweight European affair. There is an all-Spanish match-up as Valencia and Villarreal face off in a derby double-header and Portugal’s Benfica meet one of Europe’s in-form sides in the shape of Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt.

Slavia Prague draw no bet @ 3/1

Slavia have been the surprise package in the Europa League this season after coming through a tough group, which contained Bordeaux, FC Copenhagen and Zenit St Petersburg.

The Prague outfit are unbeaten at home in this competition and overcame multiple winners Sevilla in the previous round.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri could opt to make a few changes for this European clash as the Blues continue to push for a top-four finish in the Premier League – and they have a huge game to come at Liverpool this weekend.

That may just hand Slavia a chance and the Czech outfit will be well aware of just how important a result in this first leg will be if they are to stand a realistic chance of reaching the last four.

Chelsea have been excellent at home this season, with just two defeats in all competitions, and the majority of their problems have been on the road.

Slavia have also been strong at their Sinobo Stadium home, with just one loss all season – way back in August – and they may be able to pull off an upset against their Premier League visitors.

A Slavia Prague draw no bet selection at 3/1 really stands out in this quarter-final first leg, while the double chance of either a home win or draw is 6/5 if you are looking for a safer option.

Arsenal win to zero @ 33/10

Arsenal take on Napoli in arguably the standout tie of the quarter-finals and the Gunners probably need to win the first leg at home if they are to reach the last four.

The north London outfit have not always been convincing in Europe this season and have lost both away legs in the knockout stage to date, at BATE Borisov and Rennes.

Napoli are a step up in class to Arsenal’s previous opponents and the Italian team were unlucky not to qualify from the Champions League group stage after finishing behind Paris Saint-Germain and level on points with Liverpool.

The Partenopei have struggled on the road, however, with just three wins in their last 10, and have managed just one win in five attempts on their travels in Europe.

Arsenal’s home record has been strong of late and they go into this quarter-final seeking an eighth straight win at the Emirates Stadium. Unai Emery’s men have conceded just two goals during that run, with five wins including clean sheets, and they can give themselves the best possible chance of Europa League progress by beating Napoli to nil on Thursday.

Arsenal are unbeaten at home in the Europa League this season with four wins and a draw in five games so far – and they’ve also managed four clean sheets.

This could well be a tight encounter and is a tie that is unlikely to be decided in the first leg, even if Arsenal to claim a win and a vital clean sheet, and a home win by one goal looks another strong option at 13/5.

Valencia to win @ 8/5

Villarreal host Valencia in the first leg of this all-La Liga match-up and, as well as a place in the semi-finals, local bragging rights are at stake in this derby.

The Europa League has been the one bright spot in the Yellow Submarine’s season as they remain unbeaten in the competition, while domestically they are currently in the relegation places in Spain.

Villarreal’s unbeaten run may well come to an end against Los Che, however, as the visitors go into this encounter in a rich vein of form.

Valencia did slip to a 2-0 loss at Rayo Vallecano over the weekend but that ended a 17-match unbeaten run for the Mestalla side.

The sides played out a 0-0 draw at El Madrigal earlier in the season and in January Valencia claimed a comfortable 3-0 home win over Villarreal in La Liga.

Villarreal will be prioritising their survival battle and have a big game to come against Girona at the weekend, while Valencia could view the Europa League as their most likely route to the Champions League and will be fully focused on the task in hand.

Valencia look a good option at 8/5 to win and the 15/4 on an away win with both teams to score appeals, as Villarreal have scored at least one goal in each of their last 18 home games.

Benfica v Eintracht Frankfurt draw @ 5/2

Eintracht Frankfurt head to Lisbon in fine form as they are unbeaten in 15 and have won eight of their last nine games across all competitions.

The Bundesliga club’s unbeaten run will be put to the test against Portuguese giants Benfica, although a draw could be the way to go in this match-up.

Benfica have just one defeat in their last 16 games at home but have drawn two of their last four. Their results in Europe at the Estadio de Luz have not been particularly inspiring either, as they have just three wins in seven attempts this season stretching back to Champions League qualifying in August.

Frankfurt have claimed some big wins on the road in Europe this season, having won at both Lazio and Inter Milan, but they have drawn four of their last eight games on their travels and would probably take another stalemate in this first leg game as they have home advantage in the return fixture.

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Gareth Freeman Gareth is our daily tipster, who has years of successful sports betting behind him and is always on hand to offer a value bet. As well as a passion for Football (UK and European), he also has in-depth Tennis, Boxing, Snooker and Basketball knowledge.

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