Europa League Preview And Predictions - Group Stage 6
Plenty to play for in the final round of the Europa League group stages with Leicester and Rangers both looking to join West Ham in the next round. Rangers come into their final game knowing a draw against Lyon will be enough to send them through, while Leicester will need the win away to Napoli if they are going to finish top of Group C. Check out our preview and predictions below, and if playing online casino is your choice of entertainment, head over to Genting Casino and enjoy our premium experience with over 3000 of your favourite online slots and live casino table games available on any device.
Lyon v Rangers
This is a dead rubber game for both sides. Lyon have won all five games to run away with the group, while Rangers are assured of second place owing to their superior head-to-head record with Sparta Prague. A 2-0 win over the latter was Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s first game in charge of the Gers, and they’ve gone from strength to strength under the Dutchman as they’ve won all four games so far and conceded just a single goal.
Lyon come into this fixture of the back of a couple of disappointing results against bottom-half teams domestically, first losing at home to Reims and then drawing on the road at Bordeaux. However, although they’ve only registered two clean sheets in their last nine appearances, they’ve had little problems finding the net and haven’t failed to score in 19 outings.
Peter Bosz will also likely be without first-choice duo Jason Denayer and Jerome Boateng at the back. Denayer came off before half time at the weekend and shouldn’t be risked in this fixture, while Boateng is a booking away from suspension. Back up goalkeeper Julian Pollersbeck is also set to feature, so the hosts may not be at their absolute best defensively.
BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE
Napoli v Leicester
Group C is finely poised and all four teams can still qualify heading into the final group game, with all four sides recording two wins from their five appearances. Both teams in this encounter are stuck in a bit of a rut at present, but the Foxes will eye this fixture as a potential turning point owing to their hosts’ crippling injury worries.
Leicester are just W2-D3-L3 record since late October, as the two victories were picked up over the group’s bottom side Legia Warsaw and a Watford side sitting just outside the relegation zone in the Premier League. The only clashes they’ve had with top-half sides over this period ended in defeats to Arsenal, Chelsea and most recently Aston Villa. Brendan Rodgers has a couple of concerns with Kasper Schmeichel and Youri Tielemans both doubts, but his selection problems pale in comparison to those faced by Luciano Spalletti.
Napoli are just W1-D2-L3 over their past six fixtures, most recently going down to Atalanta at the weekend. It’s unsurprising that the loss of star striker Victor Osimhen has coincided with this downturn in form, but he’s by no means the only regular or key player unavailable. Kalidou Koulibaly is a big loss at the back, especially with Kostas Manolas still a major doubt, while central midfield has been decimated. Stanislav Lobotka is the latest to be ruled out, with Andre Zambo Anguissa and Fabian Ruiz also missing at present, while captain Lorenzo Insigne is also a doubt.
LEICESTER DOUBLE CHANCE
Celtic v Real Betis
These two played out a seven-goal thriller in their group opener and there’s good reason to suppose there could be more action this time around. Although Celtic lost that ding-dong 4-3 in Spain, they are in much better form now and are W11-D1-L1 since the start of October, as they scored at least twice in 10 of these games.
Ange Postecoglou need not have any concerns over his side’s attacking output, even if exciting winger Jota is expected to miss out. However, Celtic have conceded the most goals in this season’s group stages, shipping at least two goals in four of their five games, while Cameron Carter-Vickers is suspended here.
Real Betis kept things tight at the weekend as they triumphed 1-0 away at Barcelona, with that their fifth win on the bounce. However, they’re unlikely to be so conservative when taking on Celtic and seven of their previous nine games had featured at least three goals, while five of these saw a minimum of four. In Europe alone, three of their five matches have seen at least four goals.
OVER 2.5 GOALS
West Ham v Dinamo Zagreb
West Ham secured a massive victory at the weekend as they overcame Chelsea, maintaining their top-four position domestically. It’s been plain sailing for them in Europe where they’ve won four of five games to top the group, and although second-placed Dinamo Zagreb need a point to guarantee qualification to the knockouts, the hosts should have too much for them here. Indeed, the visitors come into this fixture with a W1-D2-L3 record over their recent fixtures, including back-to-back losses to Rijeka and Hajduk Split in their last two outings.
David Moyes will undoubtedly rest players with the group sewn up, though his second string had little difficulty in disposing of Rapid Vienna in their last European outing. His defence may be a bit threadbare with Ben Johnson, Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma injured, while Aaron Cresswell is a doubt and won’t be risked here. That could mean opportunities for one or two youngsters, though the hosts should be on the front foot for most of the game given the talent available further forwards.
WEST HAM TO WIN