Europa League first leg matches today. Quite simply the in-play stats and the market is key here. Research is futile. I have made mention of a few matches below but would urge you to take your cues from the freely available inplay stats at www.flashscore.com (Live centre) and www.williamhill.com (yes a bookie but superb in-play stats coverage). At this stage of the season it is in-play stats which take the place of form. They were highly effective yesterday in showing you even 9 French ladies could equalise v 11 (wo)man Switzerland and the Austrian ladies would score before halftime.
17:00 - Mlada Boleslav v Skenderbeu - 1.5 Mlada
- Czech v Albania.
- No draw yet for Mlada in recent Europa League matches. Lay any late draw could be an angle here?
- Mlada beat Shamrock Rovers home and away in their 2017 campaign opener.
- Skenderbeu has beaten Andorran and Kazak sides to get here.
- In-play stats reveal all.
17:30 - Olimpik Donetsk v PAOK - 1.72 PAOK
- Ukraine v Greece in this Europa League match.
- Olimpik are debutants in this competition.
- PAOK are an experienced Europa League side.
- In-play stats will solve this with a slight nod to the Greeks.
17:30 - Trakai v Shkendija - 2.6 Shk
- 2 names better served on a scrabble board and a market which cannot split these 2, in a competition as tough as the Europa League.
- In-play stats if I play at all.
17:45 - Maccabi Tel Aviv v Panionios - 1.57 Maccabi
- 5 consecutive wins for Maccabi Tel Aviv and they only lost one in their recent Europa League matches.
- Maccabi tend to score at home and scored 2+ in 8 of 9 home matches in this competition. As ever, it is hard to equate the teams they played as against today's Greek opponents.
- Panionios were last in the Europa League in 2007.
- Faith in Maccabi's solid 2 goals a game in the Europa League at home?
17:45 - AEK Larnaca v Dinamo Minsk - 1.66 AEK
- Cyprus v Belarus.
- Gibraltar and Irish sides beaten so far this Europa League campaign for AEK.
- Faroe and Macedonian for Minsk.
- In-play stats for me.
18:00 - AIK v Braga - 2.42 Braga
- 4 consecutive clean sheets so far for AIK. They tend to do 0-0 away and clean sheet wins at home.....so far. The market expects a tougher encounter for this Swedish side v the Portugeuse.
18:00 - FK Suduva v Sion - 1.58 Sion
- Lithuania v Switzerland.
- Sion seem to be in the Europa League yearly and meet some high profile sides such as Fenerbahce, Celtic, Bordeaux and Liverpool.
- It is this experience which suggests we side with the market today.
18:00 - Ostersunds FK v Fola Esch - 1.33 Ostersunds
- Switzerland v Luxembourg.
- Ostersunds are new to the Europa League but started very well in dispatching Galatasary. They are worthy favourites against a side from a country with weak football pedigree.
- Ostersunds took 68th and 90th minute to score v Galatasary. I do expect them to wear down Fola Esch.
18:00 - PSV v Osijek - 1.23 PSV
- PSV were last in the Europa League in 2015 and failed to score in defeats to Dinamo Moscow, and Zenit.
- Osijek were last in the Europa League in 2012.
- So far this term,they have progressed past Andorran and Swiss teams.
- There is a general feeling that the likes of Rijeka, Dinamo Zagreb and Osijek, whilst strong domestically, fall drastically short outside of Croatia.
- We should expect a PSV side more used to the Champions League, to dominate and win today.
18:00 - Sturm Graz v Fenerbahce - 2.18 Fenerbahce
- Austria v Turkey. Fenerbahce would prefer Champions League football I am sure.
- Fenerbahce's strengths lie at home, the beating of the likes of Man Utd (a weakened Man Utd granted) attests to that.
- Sturm Graz were last in the Europa League in 2015 and failed to win. They have an unenviable 7 match losing sequence at home, over the years, in this competition.
- In 6 of the last 7 away, Fenerbahce has scored at least one goal.
18:00 - Utrecht v Lech Poznan - 1.97 Utrecht
- Holland v Poland.
- Utrecht was last in the Europa League in 2013. Lech was last in the competition 2015.
- Very little to go on.
18:30 - Astra Giurgiu v Oleksandria - 2.3 Astra
- Romania v Ukraine here and 2 of the lesser lights in each league.
- This is Olek's 2nd year. In 2016 HJK knocked them out with 2 wins.
- Astra seem to have the greater experience in the Europa League, holding the likes of Roma to 0-0 at home. On that basis only, a tentative nod towards the home side.
18:30 - Bnei Yehuda v Zenit St Petersburg - 1.31 Zenit
- I like Zenit St Petersburg as a trading vehicle, be in in the Russian Premier League or here in the Europa League.
- Provided they are up for this competition, they really should have too much for this relatively unknown Israeli side, over 2 legs.
- Bnei were last in this competition in 2012.
- Slight concern that Zenit lost to AZ and Anderlecht in this competition, teams from leagues I would have thought Zenit would be competitive with.
- Zenit beat Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-0 last year. Something to gauge against another Israeli side?
18:30 - Dinamo Bucharest v Athletic Bilbao - 1.54 Ath
- Dinamo were last in the Europa League in 2012. Ath Bilbao scored 5-3-1-3-0 recently in the Europa League albeit conceded 3-2-1-2-2 goals. This does hint to me at a second team put out by Bilbao.
- As with Milan, we might see a first team treating this as something of a pre-season pipe-opener.
- We should certainly see goals today as Bilbao look very attack minded. I would have to favour them on experience today.
19:00 - CS Uni Craiova v AC Milan - 1.3 AC Milan
- Romania v Italy and the only thing that will beat AC Milan over 2 legs is their actual desire to have a Europa League campaign. Top clubs tend to have a habit of playing peripheral players in this competition. Were they to play the First Team they would likely have a great chance of winning the competition. As Seria A is yet to start, we may see as near to a first team as possible for AC Milan today.
- CS make their Europa League debut.
18:00 - FK Krasnodar v Lyngby - 1.29 FK
- Russia v Denmark in this Europa League match.
- Only 1 win in 8 Europa League matches for FK suggests they are limited. They played the likes of Schalke, Nice, Fenerbahce, and Celta.
- Lyngby played Bangor City and Slovan Bratislava so far.
- The Russian Season is just starting as is the Danish season. The market sides firmly with the Russians.
19:30 - Bordeaux v Videoton - 1.37 Bord
- Bordeaux were last in the Europa League in 2015.
- Videoton are unbeaten in 5 matches getting past a Maltese and Croatian side. Bordeaux should be a step up.
19:30 - Gent v SCR Altach - 1.43 Gent
- Belgium v Austria in a battle of 2 peripheral European leagues.
- Gent are recently experienced in the Europa League - total goals in matches last year? 5-8-4-1-1-4-7-2.
- Gent scored and conceded in their last 2 Europa League matches.
- Gent scored in their last 7 home matches in the Europa League and in 6 of their last 7 matches, they scored 2 goals at least.
- Altach are unreadable at the moment. Gent seem to have goals in them and I think they can react positively to going behind should that happen.
19:30 - Panathinaikos v FK Qabala - 1.52 Pana
- Greece v Azerbaijan.
- No win in 7 Europa League matches for Pana saw them fail to score in 4 of 5. They played the likes of Celta, Ajax, and Standard Liege.
- Qabala beat a Polish side in their 2017 campaign. In 2016 they were, like Pana, out of their depth with 6 losses.
- These 2 will not be going far in the Europa League. In-play stats will determine any play.
19:45 - Aberdeen v Apollon Limassol - 2.16 Aberdeen
- Aberdeen were undone by Maribor last year in the Europa League. So far they drew at home and won away v a Bosnian side.
- Apollon beat a Moldovan side. In-play stats again here.
19:45 - Dinamo Zagreb v Odds BK - 1.25 Dinamo
- Dinamo Zagreb were last in the Europa League in 2014 where they lost to Celtic and Salzburg.
- That betrays poor relative form from the Croatians.
- Odds are a Norwegian Eliteserien side. 4 consecutive clean sheet wins so far this campaign v Ballymena United and Vaduz.
- Little to work with bar the market and in-play stats. We know all about Dinamo Zagreb's home record in the league. Will that give them a boost in the Europa League? The market thinks so.
19:45 - Marseille v Oostende - 1.34 Marseille
- Oostende's first venture into the Europa League. Marseille could not get past Atl Bilbao last year in this competition but are clearly the team from the better league.
- Bar ring rustiness we should expect a home win today. Oostende do present an element of the unknown though.
20:05 - Austria Vienna v A.E.L. - 1.6 Austria
- Austria Vienna scored and conceded in 7 of their last 8 Europa League matches.
- They played Plzen and Roma last year and got little out of it.
- No Europa League for A.E.L since 2014. Wins this year v St Joseph's and Progres.
- Austria Vienna has met the classier opponents this Europa League (accounting for weaker sides put out by the likes of Roma).
- They may score and concede so lay A.E.L if A.E.L scores first.
20:05 - Everton v Ruzomberok - 1.12 Everton
- Everton rewarded for a great domestic season with this Europa League berth. They take on a Slovakian side.
- Everton were last in the Europa League in 2015 where they scored and conceded in 4 consecutive matches, winning 3. I seem to remember that a less than first team squad was sent out for those matches.
- Everton are by far and away the highest level team Ruz has met on their Europa League adventures.
- Minus Romelu Lukaku, where are the goals going to come? The market expects 3/4 minimum.
20:05 - Freiburg v Domzale - 1.26 Freiburg
- Germany v Slovenia in this first round Europa League match.
- Freiburg were last in the Europa League in 2013.
- The highlight for Domzale last year was beating West Ham at home. They beat Flora and Valur so far this Europa League campaign home and away.
- Little to work with for the home side bar the market which expects a comfortable home win.
ATP Hamburg - clay
Benoit Paire v Nicolas Kicker - 1.52 Paire
- 'Ooh what a lovely' Paire has tended to be reliable for trading when favourite.
- 49th v 95th.
- Paire's last 4 clay court events saw him out in the first round. Not since Casablanca has he gone deep into a tournament.
- Kicker has been plying his trade mostly in clay, even in the grass court season.Quarter finalist in Lyon beating some eyecatching names, he lost to 1.17 shot Foggy recently in 3 sets.
- We might see Kicker be competitive here. I would, and I stress the word, speculatively lay Paire if he wins first set. He may not be 'ooh what a lovely' Paire on Clay.
Federico Delbonis v David Ferrer - 1.54 Ferrer
- Like Wozniacki I do tend to gravitate to a David Ferrer match particularly when he is favourite. What you get ALL the time is 100%.
- 98th v 32nd. Yes Ferrer has been top 10 and his rankings are tanking but he is 3-0 in head to heads and won this year in Bastad on clay.
- He actually won the final in Bastad so on that basis alone, I am with Ferrer here and would happily back him at 1.8 or higher for trading purposes.
Karen Khachanov v Aljaz Bedene - 1.76 Karen
- Little really to gain from Karen and Bedene's wins. Both around 1.1 shots.
- 56th v 68th.
- As you know, I like Karen, the man with the woman's name. He is a fighter.
- Bedene is an up and coming Brit.
- Karen has won in 2016 in 3 setters and the odds suggest a 3 setter today. It does have the feel of a 'lay the first set winner' match.
- Indeed looking at these 2's recent matches, it suggests that they tend not to win 2-0.
Philipp Kohlschreiber v Gilles Simon - 1.47 Kohl
- A German in Germany and time and again we see this 'Heather' factor.
- 31st v 30th. The rankings could not be tighter.
- Last head to head was in Tokyo and Simon ended a 2-0 Kohl run. Kohl won here in Hamburg last year in 2 sets.
ATP Gstaad - clay
Feliciano Lopez v Yannick Hanfmann - 1.48 Lopez
- A real pity Lopez retired first round at Wimbledon because, like Gilles Muller, this guy is a class act on grass.
- 40th v 262nd.
- No head to heads.
- Winner in Gstaad last year, if Lopez is recovered (he has played no tennis since the retirement) then he will be competitive.
- It takes a big name to beat Lopez on clay.
- Potential injury niggle clouds the match.