FOOTBALL BETTING: The league seasons are still a good fortnight away but European qualifying campaigns get going early these days – its the 2nd leg of the 2nd qualifying round of the Europa League.
The Europa League is a chance for some of Europe’s smaller teams to taste continental competition and the 2nd qualifying round is all part of the long, long journey to the final.
Tonight sees the 2nd leg and there is a good representation for Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Firstly, Motherwell must travel to Iceland and face Breidablik with only a 1-0 advantage from last week. The Scottish outfit are 7/5 with Stan James to win and have no selection issues but the Icelanders surely can’t be underestimated here, especially as they are half way through their domestic campaign and currently top. Breidablik are 12/5 at Betdaq and well worth an interest.
Irish trio Sporting Fingal, Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk are all in action – Dundalk have it all to do at home to Levski Sofia (6/1 Sportingbet) and Shamrock Rovers have a daunting trip all the way to Israel to meet Bnei Yehuda. Shamrock managed a 1-1 draw at home in the 1st leg but at 6/1 (Ladbrokes), they have it all to do. The incentive for both teams is a dream tie with Juventus but Bnei Yehuda shouldn’t have any problem at 1/2 with Victor Chandler. Sporting Fingal have done wonders since their formation in 2007 and tonight they have a very real oppurtunity to progress to new heights. They fought out a brilliant 3-2 loss away to Maritimo and now the Portuguese men must come to Ireland to protect their lead. Fingal will have chances tonight and are looking to keep the game tight, what with the away goal advantage. Sporting Fingal are 7/2 with Betfred to win, which they have a very real chance of doing, and Victor Chandler reckon 1/1 about under 2.5 goals.
Bangor FC return home after claiming a 1-1 draw at Honka Espoo and find themselves as 4/1 outsiders with Paddy Power. This game will probably be as cagey as the first and perhaps a draw at 12/5 with William Hill is the best way to go.
Cliftonville go to HNK Cibalia in Croatia to defend a 1-0 lead and will surely sit on this and hope for a 0-0 (18/1 Sportingbet). HNK Cibalia are just 1/4 a Coral to win. Portadown are the other representatives for Northern Ireland and face a frankly awful journey all the way to Azerbaijan, on the edges of Iran, to face FK Qarabag. Qarabag are 1/3 with Betfred and should have no problems overwhelming the Portadown men who will be well out of their comfort zone.
In other ties, Dinamo Minsk take a 5-1 home lead to JK Sillamäe Kalev. The home side are 6/1 at Stan James and could spring a surprise over a complacent and changed Minsk.
Europe League fixtures, 22nd July 2010:
Mika Ashtarak v Rabotnicki Kometal, (agg 0-1), R2, L2, 14:00
Teteks v FK Ventspils, (agg 0-0), R2, L2, 15:30
Dukla Banska Bistryka v FC Zestafoni, (agg 0-3), R2, L2, 16:00
Torpedo Zhodino v OFK Belgrade, (agg 2-2), R2, L2, 16:00
Mogren Budve v Maccabi Tel-Aviv, (agg 0-2), R2, L2, 16:30
Spartak v FC 03 Differdange, (agg 3-3), R2, L2, 16:30
Banik Ostrava v WIT Georgia Tbilisi, (agg 6-0), R2, L2, 17:00
Dinamo Tbilisi v Gefle, (agg 2-1), R2, L2, 17:00
Dnepr-Transmash Mogilev v Stabaek, (agg 2-2), R2, L2, 17:00
FK Jelgava v Molde, (agg 0-1), R2, L2, 17:00
FK Qarabag v Portadown, (agg 2-1), R2, L2, 17:00
Kalev Sillamae v Dinamo Minsk, (agg 1-5), R2, L2, 17:00
Siroki Brijeg v FK Austria Vienna, (agg 2-2), R2, L2, 17:00
TPS v Cercle Bruges, (agg 1-0), R2, L2, 17:00
Karpaty Lviv v KR Reykjavik, (agg 3-0), R2, L2, 17:15
FC Dacia Chisinau v Kalmar, (agg 0-0), R2, L2, 17:30
UE Sant Julia v MyPa, (agg 0-3), R2, L2, 17:30
Apoel Nicosia v FC Tauras, (agg 3-0), R2, L2, 18:00
FC Iskra-Stal v Elfsborg, (agg 1-2), R2, L2, 18:00
Randers FC v Nogometno Drustvo HiT Gorica, (agg 3-0), R2, L2, 18:00
Bnei Yehuda v Shamrock, (agg 1-1), R2, L2, 18:30
SK Tirana v FC Utrecht, (agg 0-4), R2, L2, 18:30
Dinamo Bucharest v FC Olimpia, (agg 2-0), R2, L2, 18:45
Dundalk v Levski Sofia, (agg 0-6), R2, L2, 19:00
FC Vaduz v Brondby, (agg 0-3), R2, L2, 19:00
HNK Sibenik v Anorthosis Famagusta, (agg 2-0), R2, L2, 19:00
Ruch Chorzow v Valletta, (agg 1-1), R2, L2, 19:00
Vikingur v Besiktas, (agg 0-3), R2, L2, 19:00
Wisla Krakow v FK Siauliai, (agg 2-0), R2, L2, 19:00
Bangor City v FC Honka, (agg 1-1), R2, L2, 19:30
Gyor ETO FC v FK Atyrau, (agg 2-0), R2, L2, 19:30
NK Maribor v Videoton FC Fehervar, (agg 1-1), R2, L2, 19:30
Olympiakos v KS Besa Kavaje, (agg 5-0), R2, L2, 19:30
Rapid Vienna v Futbolo Klubas Suduva (Marijampole), (agg 2-0), R2, L2, 19:30
Tre Penne v Zrinjski Mostar, (agg 1-4), R2, L2, 19:30
Borac v Lausanne Sports, (agg 0-1), R2, L2, 19:45
HNK Cibalia Vinkovci v Cliftonville, (agg 0-1), R2, L2, 19:45
Sporting Fingal v Maritimo, (agg 2-3), R2, L2, 19:45
Buducnost Podgorica v FK Baku, (agg 1-2), R2, L2, 20:00
Breidablik v Motherwell, (agg 0-1), R2, L2, 20:15