West Ham v Sevilla
Sevilla edged the first leg with a 1-0 win, but this tie is far from done and it’s noticeable how much better the Spanish side are on home turf. Whereas they’re now W13-D4-L1 on their own patch this season, they’re without a win in seven on their travels, even if five of these ended in stalemates.
Another tight affair should be expected given that a mammoth 21 of Sevilla’s 23 away matches this season have seen fewer than three goals. Even the two exceptions were narrow encounters as they went down to both Real Madrid and Real Betis by 2-1 scorelines, while as many as 12 of those away days resulted in a stalemate after 90 minutes.
Although West Ham have seen a dip in form lately, with a W3-D2-L3 record across their last eight, all three defeats were inflicted on the road, while all three victories came on home turf. Limited to results at home alone, the Hammers have now won five of their last seven, losing just once, and will certainly draw confidence from their deserved weekend win over Aston Villa. However, with five of those seven games featuring a maximum of two goals, this second leg appears likely to be a cagey contest with goal mouth action kept to a minimum.
Injuries could also play a role in keeping the scores down here. Sevilla remain without attacking threats Papu Gomez, Suso, Erik Lamela and Lucas Ocampos, while the Hammers are without Jarrod Bowen and have doubts surrounding Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell.
UNDER 2.5 GOALS
Crvena Zvezda v Rangers
Crvena Zvezda may have won five of their last six outings, but it’s noticeable that the exception came in the 3-0 defeat to Rangers last week. Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side are clearly a cut above the Serbian outfit’s usual domestic competition, and despite the hostile atmosphere they’ll be sure to receive in Belgrade, should expect to make safe passage through to the quarter-finals.
Rangers are W18-D6-L1 under the Dutchman to date, as only an Old Firm derby with Celtic ended in defeat, while all but two of those victories yielded clean sheets. They’re currently on a run of eight wins from 11 unbeaten games, during which time they played German giants Borussia Dortmund twice, while their latest win over Dundee in the Scottish Cup has left them with four wins on the spin.
Although beating Celtic to the league title is Ranger’s ultimate ambition this season, with the reward a Champions League spot, there’s no possibility of the Gers resting on their laurels and resting anyone here, despite possessing a commanding first-leg lead. However, it’s fair to say that they rode their luck in that encounter defensively, with veteran goalkeeper Allan McGregor making some crucial interventions, and another shut out here shouldn’t be relied upon.
Indeed, away from home, the Gers have only registered five clean sheets from 16 trips since late September. In Europe alone, Rangers have just a single shut out on the road from eight matches since last season’s knockouts began, as even that was picked up in a play-off with Armenian outfit Alashkert. Moreover, Crvena Zvezda have only failed to score in one of their past seven home European matches, even putting two goals past AC Milan and Sporting Braga during this time.
BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE
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