Live on ITV 4 & Ch5: Thu 18.00 & 19.45: Liverpool need to be on their toes at FC Utrecht to justify favouratism.
FC Utrecht lie 12th in the Dutch Eredivisie having lost more matches than they have won and subsequently, on the face of it, Liverpool look worthy favourites at 6/5 with Stan James as they head to the Stadion Galgenwaard tomorrow.
However, the hosts, Victor Chandler’s 13/5 outsiders have proven pretty formidable on their own patch this term and have primarily been let down by their away form, so perhaps the clash isn’t as clear cut as the odds suggest. Totesport’s 12/5 for the spoils to be shared therefore isn’t without appeal and as Utrecht haven’t been short of goals at home, it could well be a score draw with both teams set to find the net in the Netherlands (5/6, 888Sport).
The hosts have had a tendency to be out of the blocks quickly this season, they scored twice inside 20 minutes in their 4-0 mauling of Celtic for example, while Roy Hodgson’s charges have struck before the 25 minute mark in three of their five Europa League fixtures. An early strike could be on the cards then and William Hill offer 10/11 for the opener to arrive in the first half an hour, with Totesport quoting 13/10 for the deadlock to be broken prior to the 28th minute.
Prolific in Europe, David N’Gog will attract cash in the first scorer market at 5/1 with Partybets, however in-form Utrecht striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel could be a man to keep an eye on; he has seven in seven this season and is 15/2 (bet365) to open the scoring.
At Eastlands, Manchester City have the strength to get the better of a Juventus side that struggled to a home draw against Lech Poznan last time out. Roberto Mancini’s side are 4/5 (Betfred) to see off the Serie A outfit, who are unlikely to show an awful lot of ambition and with that in mind, Paddy Power’s 2/1 for a defensively resolute City to combine victory with a clean sheet is a steal.
Elsewhere, Steaua Bucharest, at a massive 19/10 (bet365) can upset the odds at home to Napoli. The Romanian side were better than Liverpool in the first half of the pair’s clash at Anfield but ran out of steam before going down 4-1 while the Italians failed to break down travel-sick Utrecht and on that form alone Bucharest are worth speculating on.
BATE Borisov, fresh from a 2-2 draw at Dynamo Kiev are overpriced at 13/10 with William Hill as they host AZ Alkmaar and elsewhere, CSKA Moscow (2/5, Coral), Paris St Germain (4/9, Stan James) and Zenit Petersburg (1/3, Ladbrokes) are home bankers against Sparta Prague, Karpaty and AEK Athens respectively.