THURSDAY’S EUROPA LEAGUE TIPS

FIELDING weakened teams often comes back to haunt managers and that’s exactly what happened to Man United and West Brom this week.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto di Matteo made huge changes for Carling Cup ties against West Ham and Ipswich respectively and paid the penalty.

Liverpool are doing the same tonight for a Europa League trip to Steaua Bucharest from which they need a point to progress.

Roy Hodgson is without the injured Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger and decided to leave Fernando Torres, Maxi Rodriguez, Raul Meireles, Glen Johnson and Paul Konchesky at home.

The likes of Ryan Babel and Milan Jovanovic will get a chance to impress and there are call-ups for reserve team youngsters Dani Pacheco, Nathan Eccleston, Danny Wilson, Jack Robinson and John Flanagan.

Wilson’s only game since moving from Rangers has been in the Carling Cup defeat to Northampton but he did score in Scotland’s recent win against the Faroe Islands and is highly-rated by bosses such as Walter Smith and Craig Levein.

However, it’s not easy being thrown into the lion’s den of Bucharest and I can see an unfamiliar Liverpool side struggling. Steaua look decent value at a best 23-10 with Chandler and can be backed draw no bet at 6-5 with Betfred.

Liverpool are a biggest 7-5 at Ladbrokes while David N’gog is 13-2 with Blue Square to bag the opener. The Frenchman has a decent scoring record but I’d prefer to be on Steaua striker Bogdan Stancu, top scorer in Romania with 12 in 17 matches, at 7-1 with Skybet.

Elsewhere, Villarreal will be hoping the return of Brazil striker Nilmar can lead them to victory against Dinamo Zagreb. The Spaniards trail Dinamo and PAOK in Group D and could exit with a defeat.

However, the side lying third in La Liga behind giants Barcelona and Real Madrid in league play, hasn’t lost at home this season and should be taken at 4-11 with Ladbrokes. If Nilmar starts take him to score first at 4-1 with Betfred.

Sevilla leads Group J by one point ahead of PSG and either team will qualify by winning at the Parc des Princes. A draw would send them both through if third-place Borussia Dortmund fails to beat Karpaty Lviv but the Germans should be alright at a best 1-6 with William Hill. Sevilla have dropped to sixth in La Liga after two straight defeats but Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano has netted four in his last five and is 6-1 with bet365 to break the deadlock tonight.

Consider Sevilla at 9-4 with Stan James while Villarreal’s rivals PAOK should be backed at 3-4 with William Hill at home to Bruges.

Rapid Vienna must beat Porto to stay alive but will be without key players including captain Steffen Hofmann and striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. With Porto through a draw at 23-10 with totesport could be the call.

Tonight’s double

  • PAOK
  • Villarreal

Super Single

  • Steaua Bucharest draw no bet (6-5, Betfred)
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