ALL eyes will be on Jurgen Klopp as he returns to Dortmund tonight – but they should be focused on his successor Thomas Tuchel.
A Klopp-cam will be pointed at the Liverpool boss for 90 minutes of Europa League action but his side are massive underdogs.
Klopp remains a Borussia legend but Tuchel has improved the side he inherited to such an extent there is even a title race in the Bundesliga with just five points separating the sides.
Liverpool remain a work in project for Klopp and we won’t see the best of his side until next season although Man United were put away convincingly in the last round.
They look decent going forward but are fragile at the back and strike star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan are likely to make hay.
Dortmund have dropped four points at home this season which is one reason they are pretty hot favourites at 11-20 with bet365 and Ladbrokes and 4-9 at Betfred to qualify. To make the semis Liverpool are 9-4 at Skybet.
I don’t see too many goals – Dortmund defend well and Klopp has kept it tight in Europe – but I’m on the Germans to edge a win with Mkhitaryan scoring at 11-5 with Paddy Power.
I’m a big Villarreal fan and having won all five of their home matches in the Europa League they should carve out a first-leg advantage at home to Sparta Prague.
The Czechs are dangerous opponents and were impressive 3-0 winners away to Lazio in the previous round. But the Romans aren’t in great form and not as good as the Napoli and Bayer Leverkusen outfits beaten by the Spaniards on their way here.
Sparta have scored in every EL game this season so some will be tempted by both teams to score at 13-10 with Coral but this will be a tough test against a side who don’t concede many at home.
So again I’ll be on Villarreal at 8-15 with Coral to win and may be tempted by Villarreal -1 AH at just under evens.
The third tie is an all-Spanish one between Athletic Bilbao and holder Sevilla. Both sides are just about out the running for a Champions League so will be fully focuses on this one.
We all know about Sevilla’s brilliant home record – their run of 17 consecutive wins were ended by Real Sociedad at the weekend – and their awful form away with no La Liga successes on the road this season.
So it’s not a surprise Athletic Club are 6-5 favourites with bet365 and Sevilla have lost on their last five trips to Bilbao.
Sevilla lost all three of their Champions League away games and 1-0 at Molde in the Europa League although that didn’t matter.
Finally Shakhtar Donetsk can avoid defeat at Braga to set up a chance to qualify. They are 4-6 at Skybet to make it through against a Portuguese side who have suffered heavy defeats in recent weeks to Benfica (5-1) and Belenenses (3-0).
Bets to Consider
Mkhitaryan to score
Villarreal v Sparta Prague btts
Shakhtar draw no bet