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It is second leg Europa League night and a good opportunity for a live chat webinar on in-play stats. I will begin at 18:00 tonight with the focus of the webinar on this Europa League, hoping to decipher the matches via in-play stats, given a large proportion of the matches are tough to call pre-match. A lot of the favourites today already have commanding leads so their matches are not 'must-wins', rather they are 'can accept a tolerable loss as long as we progress over the 2 legs!'
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6876859580979467779 is the link for the webinar. Fear not, I am at my main PC today so there should be no microphone issues. See you at 18:00. If you cannot make it for 18:00 then you can always see a recorded version of the webinar at a later time.

16:00 - Lokomotiv v Nice - 2.32 Lokomotiv

  • 2-3 from the first leg saw Nice lead 2-0. One goal was a penalty.
  • Lokomotiv Moscow were awarded a penalty to make it 2-1.
  • The 66th minute saw a red card which changed the match as Lokomotiv scored 2 goals after that.
  • This suggests that the scoreline could have been different without a red card.
  • How would Lokomotiv have fared without that red card giving them an advantage. A hint that Nice were the better side?

18:00 - Atletico Madrid v FC Copenhagen - 1.29 Atl Madrid

  • A great first leg for Atl Madrid. FC Copenhagen scored first. Atl Madrid won 1-4.
  • This is a tough one to read. A 0-1 loss does fine for Atletico Madrid. As does a 0-2 loss.
  • Atl Madrid are the best team but do not need to extend themselves.

18:00 - Dynamo Kiev v AEK Athens - 1.87 Dynamo Kiev

  • 1-1 from the first leg saw AEK Athens equalise in the 80th minute.
  • Dynamo Kiev have scored and conceded in 7 of their last 8 Europa League matches.
  • Dynamo Kiev have scored and conceded in their last 7 home matches in the Europa League.
  • They are unbeaten in 10 at home in this competition.
  • 6 consecutive draws for AEK Athens in the Europa League. Surely this is a sequence to take on today?
  • On away goals rule, a 0-0 does for Dynamo Kiev.

18:00 - Lazio v FCSB - 1.33 Lazio

  • Game on here surely? FCSB lead 1-0 from the first leg.
  • Lazio come from the better league by a country mile.
  • 2 consecutive Europa League defeats for Lazio albeit Zulte did beat them after Lazio beat Zulte 2-0.
  • If Lazio are up for this, they must score first given the away goal rule. The market expects them to win. I would back Lazio 2-1, 3-1 if FCSB scored first.

18:00 - Plzen v Partizan Belgrade - 1.73 Plzen

  • It's 1-1 from the first leg, Partizan scored first and Plzen equalised late on.
  • As with CSKA Moscow yesterday, the market, after a first leg draw, sides with the home side.
  • Apart from that, I have no angle here.

18:00 - RB Leipzig v Napoli - 1.8 Leipzig

  • Napoli have been surprisingly poor in the Champions League and in the Europa League and I am surprised that a side vying for the Italian Seria A title should lose 1-3 at home to RB Leipzig.
  • Napoli did score first in that first leg.All of Leipzig's goals came after the 60th minute.
  • This is Leipzig's first Europa League, after being demoted from the Champions League.
  • In the Champions League, Napoli lost to Man City twice and Feyenoord. Given the fact Feyenoord are not all that this season, it's relatively poor stuff.
  • This is the 2nd match for Napoli this Europa League campaign after being demoted from the Champions League.
  • I cannot trust this Napoli side. Losing to Feyenoord and Leipzig is poor stuff for a side dominating in Italy.
  • Napoli need 3 goals today, with the away goal in play. Do you trust them to do so? Leipzig do look up for this Europa League, having tasted the Champions League.

18:00 - Sporting Lisbon v FC Astana - 1.36 Sporting Lisbon

  • A good win from behind for Sporting domestically away at Tondela, even with 10 men, is a good pipe opener for this Europa League 2nd leg.
  • A comprehensive 1-3 away win for Sporting Lisbon sees them clearly in control today.
  • Astana will need 3 goals in order to win.
  • 10 wins and a 0-0 at home for Sporting is excellent form, given there were 10 clean sheets in the last 11 at home.
  • Sporting Lisbon are another post-Champions League side. Some (like Napoli?) don't seem up for it. Their last Europa League form was 2016 which will not help.
  • I think Astana lack any recent competitive matches to be in a position for recovery. They are coming off their Winter Break.
  • Sporting Lisbon have been conceding away. Were this the away fixture, I could see vulnerability, but at home they look superb defensively and I would be surprised were Astana to get anything. Sporting remember can tolerate a 0-2 defeat and still progress.

18:00 - Villarreal v Lyon - 2.06 Villareal

  • Lyon returned to their goal scoring best with a 3-1 home win in the first leg. Villareal do have an away goal so that is something to work with. They need a 2-0 here today in order to qualify in the easiest manner possible.
  • Lyon were very vulnerable away from home in the Europa League with a draw v Apollon, win v Everton and loss v Atalanta.
  • 3 losses and a 1-1 for Villareal in recent matches.
  • Villareal have scored and conceded in 8 of their last 9 matches in all competitions.
  • Villareal had a relatively easy group so form is not there really.
  • We know Lyon will tolerate a 1-0 loss. If Lyon score an away goal, this will leave Villareal with a mountain to climb. 2-0 is ideal for Villareal but they are conceding. I cannot see Lyon not qualifying today. But what scoreline it'll be I don't know. It could be 2-1 even. Villareal could get the win but not qualify.

18:00 - Zenit St Petersburg v Celtic - 1.65 Zenit

  • A 78th minute Celtic 1-0 is an excellent result to take into this second leg. No concession of that away goal.
  • Only 1 loss in 24 home matches in the Europa League for Zenit, superb stuff.
  • 3-1, 3-1, 2-1 last 3 home matches. A 3-1 will do for Zenit today and will be a necessity of they concede an away goal.
  • Celtic are another side coming from the Champions League. In Europa League, Celtic did not win in 11 matches until that Zenit win.
  • I will stick with 3-1 today as an opening gambit. I would certainly lay Celtic were they to score first. 1-0, 2-0, 3-1 are potential correct scores today. I am really put off by an apparent attitude problem with Celtic and the Europa League historically.

20:05 - AC Milan v Ludogorets - 1.55 AC Milan

  • AC Milan underlined their overall return to form with a 0-3 win over Ludogorets.
  • That is 6 wins and 3 draws in 9 matches.
  • AC Milan are the better side by a country mile. They can tolerate a 0-2 defeat today and still progress. This makes these matches tough to read.

20:05 - Arsenal v Ostersunds FK - 1.31 Arsenal

  • A comprehensive 0-3 win for Arsenal should see this tie put to bed this second leg.
  • Arsenal may have one eye on the League Cup Final v Manchester City.
  • Team news is very important today for Arsenal. This will not be a first team by any stretch. Ostersunds actually impressed me in their Europa League matches.
  • Clearly, though, as elite league teams were introduced against Ostersunds, they faltered. 1-1 v Hertha, 1-0 loss to Atl Bilbao.
  • Do remember Arsenal can tolerate a 0-2 defeat but if they score today, Ostersunds will have a mountain to climb.
  • Arsenal may be vulnerable with these fringe players playing. A 'tolerable loss'?

20:05 - Atalanta v Dortmund - 2.4 Atalanta

  • Batshuayi looks like the able replacement for Aubameyang at Dortmund. 1-0 to 1-2 to 3-2 in the first leg. Typically Dortmund this season.
  • These are 2 teams from Elite leagues and any match with Dortmund with a 2-4 odds favourite gets a simple shrug of the shoulders from me.
  • A match for the in-play stats.

20:05 - Athletic Bilbao v Spartak Moscow - 1.93 Athletic

  • We see this pattern a lot. The elite teams all performed as per expectations in the first leg.
  • 1-3 Athletic Bilbao in the first leg. A 0-2 Spartak Moscow scoreline will see them through on away goals.
  • An interesting market given the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan and Sporting all have similar first leg leads and are at home today at far shorter odds than Athletic Bilbao.
  • That's 4 consecutive wins for Ath Bilbao in the Europa League.
  • 13 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats in their 17 home matches in the Europa League is very compelling for Ath Bilbao.
  • Spartak Moscow are another of those sides coming back from a Winter Break without real competitive matches under their belts.
  • They are irregular visitors to the Europa League with matches in 2011 and 2016 so form is tough to quantify.
  • Do note the cautious odds for Bilbao today as compared with other home sides with commanding 1st leg leads. It does suggest a score draw.

20:05 - Braga v Marseille - 2.7 Marseille

  • A comprehensive 3-0 Marseille first leg win sees them with the need for only a goal today - an away goal - to put this tie out of the reach of Braga.
  • The market is extremely cautious today. It cannot split between these 2 sides. It suggests the market is giving Braga a shot here albeit they need 3 goals without conceding.

20:05 - Red Bull Salzburg v Real Sociedad - 2.42 Red Bull

  • A 2-2 between these 2 goal merchants in the first leg was about as much of a surprise as finding out that Liberace was gay.
  • It seems to me that Real Sociedad were the better team in the first leg. Red Bull's first goal was an own goal. Real Sociedad made it 2-1 with 2 2nd half goals.
  • Red Bull equalised with a 90th minute goal.
  • Salzburg are unbeaten in 12 matches in the Europa League with 3 draws in 4 matches.
  • 5 consecutive home clean sheets for Red Bull in the Europa League at home.
  • For me, Real Sociedad did look to be the better side, with Red Bull lucky to have their 2 away goals , one an own goal, the other a last minute goal.
  • Do remember the away goal rule. If somehow Red Bull keep another home clean sheet then that is enough today. Sociedad we know from Spain do have a lethal forward line when they are purring.
  • No surprise to see goals but as is typical of the Europa League, it is tough to call.