FENERBAHCE take a narrow 1-0 lead to Portugal for their Europa League semi-final second leg and while Benfica have an excellent home record the Turkish side can still progress.

The defeat last week was Benfica's first inside of 90 minutes since their Champions League defeat to Spartak Moscow back in October. They were thoroughly outplayed in Turkey and in truth should be even further behind as Cristian missed a penalty for Fenerbahce and both Moussa Sow and Dirk Kuyt hit the woodwork.

Jorge Jesus' side do have a somewhat formidable record at Estádio da Luz though – 17 wins and two draws from their last 19 matches there – with their sole defeat this season coming against Barcelona. Oscar Cardozo is still their main man but has netted just once in his last half dozen and will have to be at the top of his game to get any joy from the Fener defence.

Fenerbahce have been in superb form in this competition and they've already beaten the likes of Lazio and Marseille en route to the semis. They don't score many goals but don't concede many either and that was key in the first leg as they denied the Portuguese an away goal.

Aykut Kocaman's men have kept four clean sheets in their last five away games in the Europa League, failing to score just once themselves. If they can get an away goal tonight then Benfica are going to need three to make the Final in Amsterdam and I just can't see that happening.

Moussa Sow and Dirk Kuyt have the quality to cause plenty of problems for the Benfica defence they should be favourites to go through. That's why, with Benfica trading as low as 1.89 to qualify I have to make them my lay of the day.

Recommended Bet

Lay Benfica to qualify v Fenerbahce @ 1.89

Milesey (Betfair)

  1. Milesey 8 years ago


    off to Sweden for our first pick of the day – as in-form Assyriska travel to Hammarby, looking to secure their fourth win on the bounce.

    Valentic Azrudin’s side go into this clash sitting second in the Superettan, and just one loss from their last 10 league outings shows that they are on a real run of form at the moment.

    Five unbeaten from six away from the Sodertalje Fotbollsarena shows that the visitors are more than capable of getting something from this encounter – and, seven goals scored, with three clean sheets on the bounce, shows just how dominant the away side have been of late. Hosts Hammarby have struggled to get going this campaign, and have won just one of their last half a dozen league games ahead of this one.

    A 1-0 loss at Falkenburg last time out will have knocked confidence down at the Soderstadion, and that leaves Gregg Berhalter’s side sitting eighth in the table.

    The Bajen have not kept a clean sheet in three league outings, and that suggests that their guests could notch one or two here.

    I fancy the away side to take maximum points in this encounter, at cracking value.

    Bet 1: Assyriska (AWAY) @ 3.5

    Back to more familiar climes now, as Chelsea host Basel at Stamford Bridge in the second leg of their Europa League semi final.

    The Blues take a 2-1 lead into this clash, and that puts them in a stellar position to book their place in the last two of this competition – as long as they can maintain the impressive form they have shown in recent weeks on their own patch.

    Rafa Benitez’ side have won 10 of their last 13 in front of their own fans, drawing two and losing one, and will be confident of holding out their Swiss opponents in this clash.

    Murat Yakin’s side travel to London in need of ‘a miracle’ if they are to reverse their hosts advantage (his words, not mine) – and three without a win for the Swiss Super League leaders suggests that they may have hit a bad patch at just the wrong time.

    The St Jakob-Park club will be keen to arrest that slump this evening – but will need two goals in order to keep themselves in touch with qualification.

    At times in the first leg, the Swiss side dominated their opponents, but couldn’t make the pressure tell – and Yakin will be rueing those missed chances now.

    Basel have impressed many with their European performances so far this campaign, but I think that this may be a step too far for them – and my money’s on Chelsea to weigh in with a win here, booking their place in the final of this competition.

    Bet 2: Chelsea (HOME) @ 1.56


  2. Milesey 8 years ago

    Sheffield United v Yeovil Town

    Friday 19:45 BST, Live on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports HD

    Match Odds:

    Sheffield United are 2.06 favourites for Friday’s first leg of the League One semi-final play-offs, but
    have hit a ropey run of form at the wrong time. Since Danny Wilson’s sacking, caretaker boss Chris Morgan has tinkered with players and formations, but the bottom line is seven points taken from their last 24 possible in the division doesn’t exactly inspire.

    Yeovil trade at 3.85 for victory at Bramall Lane and have been the surprise package this season, gaining 77 points and finishing a club best fourth place. The Glovers picked up 34 points on the road during the regular campaign and head into the play-offs as underdogs.

    Backers of the draw at 3.65 should have a good chance to trade in-running. The Blades collected far too many stalemates on home soil in 2012-2013 with 11, whilst Yeovil will be keen to take the game to the second leg at Huish Park. This should be a classic case of trying to minimise risk in Yorkshire and to keep the home team quiet for as long as possible – as they have all the pressure on them.

    Promotion odds:

    Chris Morgan’s side are second favourites to gain promotion at 3.70, which might possibly be out of my price remit to take on sides. I mentioned on Saturday how I thought they could be the type to grind out a game or victory, and at juicier prices I would be more inclined to back them via penalties and few goals – which would be a second-leg bet.

    United have choked before in the play-offs, notably in the Wembley final last year against Huddersfield.

    Yeovil are 4.75 for promotion and are the outsiders of the four, simply because of their name. Manager Gary Johnson has built an excellent team that really play for their boss, his message will be that they have nothing to lose.

    Opta Stats:

    The Blades are without a win in four games (drawn two and lost two), and over the final 10 matches of the League One season, only Stevenage (8) and Tranmere (7) picked up fewer points than United (10).

    Those seeking the under 2.5 goals bets, Opta reveal that Sheffield United have failed to score in three successive matches and have failed to find the net in five of their last eight outings.

    The League’s top scorer with 23 – Paddy Madden – will be the starting point for any first goalscorer bet, but Opta state the Irishman has failed to find the net in his last four games. Yeovil’s James Hayter is in better form, hitting three goals in his last five.


    One each here, Gary Johnson’s side were 2-0 winners at Bramall Lane thanks to a brace from Madden, although Sheffield United were woeful under then boss Danny Wilson. Town played well at Huish Park in September in their first meeting, but were seen off 1-0 by the Blades.

    Under 2.5 goals:

    With both meetings hitting this market during the season, I see this as a perfect game for under 2.5 goals, and even the under 1.5 goals. Yeovil boss Gary Johnson used a 4-5-1 earlier in the campaign against United and revealed it’s tough to go with a 4-4-2 against such a strong and disciplined side.

    The home team can use the strong-arm tactics and certainly have experience. They are usually difficult to break down but do have a chronic lack of goals. They seemed best under Wilson when using the flanks and whipping in crosses to Dave Kitson, so I am sure width will be at a minimum.

    First goalscorer:

    Paddy Madden will be popular at 6.20, and his chances will have to come via the counter-attack but he is an expert finisher with a killer instinct. Fellow forward James Hayter is 8.0 to strike first. The no goalscorer price of 9.20 is surely a trading option if the match pans out how I think.

    Sheffield United’s Dave Kitson is outright favourite at 5.70, which might be a little short considering the hosts’ lack of goals. Neil Collins scored from a corner during the Yorkshire side’s 1-0 win at Huish Park, and it might be worth looking at set-piece scoring options for the centre-backs, with Collins a massive price at 36.0

    Recommended bets:

    Back under 1.5 goals @ 3.85
    Back under 2.5 goals @ 2.0
    Back 0-0 @ 10.0 and 1-0 @ 8.0
    Back HT draw @ 2.12
    Back Neil Collins as first goalscorer @ 36.0


    ( betfair )

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