This is the Europa League and it is such a tough competition to research. This is the first of two legs today and tactics will play a part, with the away goal rule in force. I will just look at the countries these teams come from and their recent Europa League form. Do remember that the odds provided by the market makers are simply a big fat-assed guess! There is no form to work with, no way to gauge the ability of 2 teams who rarely meet. If I am online I will monitor the inplay stats but historically I find Europa League First Leg matches so tough to decipher.
18:00 - Apollon Limassol v FC Midtjylland - 2.18 Apollon
- Cyprus v Denmark.
- 2 wins v Zaria and a win and a loss (but winning over 2 legs) v Aberdeen for Apollon.
- Both teams have scored in FC Midtjylland's last 6 Europa League matches, winning all bar 1 match.
- I personally think FC Midtjylland has goals in them.
- Apollon are unbeaten in 6 home Europa League matches. 4-4-2 goals scored by FC Midtjylland in their last 3 away matches in the Europa League.
- In-play stats will be my main focus but I will nod slightly towards the away side from Denmark. Lay Apollon if Apollon scores first? FC Midt keeps scoring and conceding.
18:00 - BATE Borisov v Oleksandria - 1.97 BATE
- Belarus v Ukraine.
- BATE has been in the Europa League 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016 but are yet to win a match.
- At home BATE had a good record in the Europa League. 3 consecutive draws at home 2011, 2013 and 2016.
- Oleksandria has played only 4 Europa League matches 0-0 and 1-0 win v Astra.
- Tough to call given the Poor BATE overall record and Olek's lack of Europa League form.
18:00 - Dinamo Zagreb v Skenderbeu - 1.28 Dinamo
- Croatia v Albania.
- Dinamo Zagreb were last in the Europa League in 2014.
- 4 wins and a loss at home for Dinamo Zagreb in this competition.
- Only 1 loss in 6 for Skenderbeu.
- Tough to gauge these 2 teams. Dinamo Zagreb at home in the league are superb. Is this home strength something transferable to the Europa League?
18:00 - FK Krasnodar v Crvena Zvezda - 1.64 FK
- Russia v Serbia.
- Crvena are unbeaten in 7 Europa League matches and beat Sparta Prague in wins to nil.
- FK scored and conceded in 4 of their last 5 Europa League matches, winning their last 2 v Lyngby.
18:45 - Hafnarfjordur v Braga - 1.75 Braga
- Icelandic Hafn has recently been in the Champions League. They were last in the Europa League in 2015.
- 3 consecutive away score draws for Braga in this competition.
- Will Braga continue and score that away goal? Is that a ready angle? Braga came from behind to win in the league at the weekend. A sign we can hope they score if conceding first today?
19:00 - PAOK v Ostersunds FK - 1.52 PAOK
- Greece v Sweden.
- 1 loss in 6 for PAOK in the Europa League came v Schalke.
- Schalke and Qarabag recent victors at PAOK. Is Ostersunds as strong as these 2?
- Galatasary and Fola Esch are the 2 teams Ostersunds has beaten. Quite impressed regarding Galatasary but as ever in this equivalent of the English League Cup, were Galatasary one of those teams who field weakened sides?
- The market sides strongly with PAOK today.
19:00 - Vardar Skopje v Fenerbahce - 1.68 Fenerbahce
- Madeconia v Turkey.
- Vardar was last in the Europa League in 2007 and could not win a match.
- Fenerbahce has only 2 defeats in 8 matches in this competition, one was v Man Utd.
- Little is known about Vardar. Fenerbahce has scored and conceded in their last 3 Europa League matches without losing. This suggests they could score if going behind.
19:15 - Plzen v AEK Larnaca - 1.67 Plzen
- Czech v Cyprus.
- Plzen was in the Champions League last season. Their Europa League record is poor with a solitary win last match 3-2 v Austria Vienna
- They have scored and conceded in 6 of their last 7 matches.
- AEK are unbeaten so far this 2017 campaign but obviously the level rises now.
19:30 - Ludogorets v FK Suduva - 1.2 Ludogorets
- Bulgaria v Lithuania.
- Ludogorets do normally ply their trade in the Champions League. They failed to beat Valencia or Copenhagen in the Europa League latest.
- I really cannot get a handle on Suduva. This exemplifies the Europa League. Teams from countries we know nothing about.
19:30 - Panathinaikos v Athletic Bilbao - 2.22 Ath Bilbao
- Greece v Spain. Another conundrum. Do Ath Bilbao take the Europa League as seriously as, say, Atl Madrid or Sevilla? Or will we see a peripheral Ath Bilbao side?
- Greece's Panathanaikos are likely to find it difficult if this is a Bilbao first team. Pana have failed to beat Standard Liege, Ajax and Spaniards Celta Vigo.
- In 6 of the last 8 Europa League matches for Ath Bilbao, at least one team scored 2 goals. We tend to see 2 goals total minimum in their Europa League campaigns.
19:30 - SCR Altach v Maccabi Tel Aviv - 2.76 SCR
- Hmm, how on earth do you evaluate the relative strengths of an Austrian side and an Israeli side?
- The market has given up, quoting a 'favourite' at odds of 2.76.
- SCR are unbeaten in 7 Europa League matches, never conceding 2 goals in any of those matches.
- 7 consecutive wins for Maccabi Tel Aviv.sees 5 clean sheets in 6 matches.
- Is this a match to back 0-0 pre match in and hope the defences shine tonight?
19:45 - AC Milan v Shkendija - 1.18 AC Milan
- Like Everton AC Milan were thoroughly professional in a 0-1 and 2-0 win v CS U.
- Macedonian side Shkendija ordinarily will not land a blow but we have a question mark regarding the AC Milan attitude to the Europa League.
- Will we see a 1st team out? The market, at any rate,expects an easy night for AC Milan. They may take a while to score.
19:45 - Ajax v Rosenborg - 1.32 Ajax
- 2 well know sides from Holland and Norway and in Rosenborg we have a side scoring for fun domestically. We also see a far more match-fit Rosenborg who are well into their season.
- Only one draw for Ajax in their recent Europa League encounters. I must say that this is an Ajax side more used to Champions League football.
- Ajax met with, and lost to, Lyon and Man Utd in the Europa League earlier this year.They were competitive v Copenhagen and Schalke.
- Rosenborg quite simply find the Europa League a step too far. 6 defeats in their last 7 matches in this competition.
- As with Everton, AC Milan and other major sides, we should hope that Ajax play a first team. We should expect a competitive home side, given Rosenborg look out of their depth outside of Norway.
19:45 - Club Brugge v AEK Athens - 1.83 Club
- Club Brugge has tended to frequent the Champions League but never win. AEK Athens lasted only 2 legs v CSKA before being dumped out of the Champions League.
- Both sides have wholly unspectacular Europa League form so it's in-play stats for me here.
19:45 - Domzale v Marseille - 1.52 Marseille
- Slovenian side Domzale takes on the French side Marseille.
- No draw yet for Domzale in recent Europa League matches. 6 consecutive wins at home but of course it is questionable whether the sides they have beaten are on a par with Marseille.
- Marseille's only loss in the Europa League last season was v Ath Bilbao.
- A cursory nod towards Domzale's home form but note the market is very sweet on Marseille. Remember what I said above though, this is a big guess! There is nothing really to work with.
20:05 - Everton v Hajduk Split - 1.26 Everton
- 2 1-0 wins for Everton in their last match. Very professional and both 2nd half wins.
- Split are a Croatian side.
- This is all about the team that Everton put out. Will they respect this competition. Other Premiership sides have put out weaker sides in this competitions - Tottenham, Man Utd spring to mind. They don't seem to have the burning desire to win this competition.
- A first team from Everton will win.