WE’VE had a handful of Champions League and Europa League qualifiers over the past couple of days and now were hit with a full set.
There are 48 ties on Thursday – some featuring well-known teams but many with sides most punters will be unfamiliar with.
Without googling them I wonder how many people would be able to identify the nationalities of the likes of Europa, Juvuenes, Sant Julia, Runavik and Cukaricki.
Luckily mixed in there are teams such as West Ham, Aberdeen, St Johnstone, Brondby, Stromsgodset, Go Ahead Eagles and Rosenborg.
Picking winners shouldn’t be a problem – but finding value certainly will be.
Take the Scots clubs for example – Aberdeen travel to Macedonians Shkendija while St Johnstone are off to Armenia to tackle Ashakert.
Bookies massively favour the Scots and while the weather and distances pose hurdles both to win pays no bigger than 4-5 at bet365.
Aberdeen have warmed up nicely with an 8-2 thrashing of Brechin and 1-0 defeat of Saints at Glebe Park and have been boosted by the game being moved from Tetovo to Skopje and to an evening kick-off when it will be cooler.
Last season’s top scorer Adam Rooney was on target in both friendlies and is 13-5 at McBookie and William Hill to score first.
Saints’ experienced new signing John Sutton is worth a look at 10-3 with McBookie and William Hill to break the deadlock.
The 4-5 is skinny but I have to take it and remember it’s Saints’ fourth Euro campaign in a row and they’ve beaten sides such as Luzern and Rosenborg.
I don’t know enough about the quality of the opposition to tip handicap bets with a great degree of confidence and you have to consider teams can’t hit top gear in their first competitive matches of the campaign.
But both Scots should win, in particular Aberdeen whose preparations look further down the line, and I like them at 13-8 with Stan James to win to nil.
West Ham won a place in Europe by their fair play and are as short as a side can be at home to Lusitano who finished second in the four-team Andorran top flight last season.
They did though rout second-tier Ranger’s FC 10-0 in the cup – strange but true!
The Hammers are a biggest 1-66 with Betfred and it’s a case of working out how many they’ll win by. The book is set at six with new boss Slaven Bilic’s men 5-6 at Betway minus five.
Biggest tie must be Go Ahead Eagles at home to Ferencvaros and I’ve see the Dutch side tipped at 7-4 with bet365 but having looked more into the tie there’s a huge difference of opinion among pundits so I’m leaving it alone.
I like the look of AIK who of course are in the middle of their season and they are 4-6 at William Hill away to Finnish basement boys VPS.
Another side who should impress are Polish league runners-up Jagiellonia at Lithuanians Kruoja. The Poles are 4-9 at William Hill.
I’ll consider these matches and as many others as I can (it’s impossible to look at them all though) before putting up top tips in the morning.